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December 5, 2018
I’ve secretly recorded my ex-partner – will the Family Court listen to it?

I’ve secretly recorded my ex-partner – will the Family Court listen to it?

This post is in respect of applications in private law proceedings and does not relate to recordings of professionals.

The answer is maybe!

As the majority of people in the UK now have access to a smart phone and purchasing a recording device is just an amazon-click away, the issue of secret recording (aka covert recording) is arising more and more frequently in family cases.

You may be tempted to start making recordings if your ex-partner is being abusive towards you or making allegations of abuse against you; for example, at handovers of the children. However, you should be cautious before you start making such recordings because it often reflects badly on parents in Court and doing so may be considered abusive in itself. If you have done so or plan to do so it is highly advisable to discuss this with your solicitor or barrister at the earliest opportunity.

In what circumstances will the Court listen to the recording?

There is no hard and fast rule about whether covert recordings will be admissible in the Family Court and it will depend on the circumstances of the case. The main question will be: is the recording relevant to the issues that the Court is considering? Or is it relevant to the considerations of the child’s welfare? If it is not, then it is unlikely that the Court will agree to hear it.

Other considerations about the admissibility of recording (and what weight the Court attaches to it) will include the following:

  • was it lawfully obtained?
  • it is a complete recording or has it been edited (potentially in a way which is unfavourable to the recorded person)?
  • are there problems in relation to sound and picture quality which mean that it cannot be relied upon or which raise questions as to the authenticity of the recording?

It’s important to note that if the Court does agree to admit the recordings then they may need to be transcribed, which can be costly.

What about recording the children?

It is likely that secret recording of children will be viewed unfavourably by the Courts. In many cases there are allegations about what happens during contact sessions, but if sessions are recorded parents risk being criticised for this very act.

Guidance from previous cases

There is currently no published guidance on the admissibility of covert recordings so we have to look at previous cases for assistance.

In the case of Lancashire CC v Z (Parental Hostility) [2017] EWFC B71 a father had recorded a mother during an argument, and although it showed the mother’s uncontrolled anger and bad language, the father was also criticised for his part in the argument and for secretly recording it in the first place. In that case, the father was subjected to even more criticism for recording the children, which ultimately resulted in the child being scared that her father had hidden a recording device in one of her toys.

In Re W (minors) [2017] EWFC 80 the judge stated that he considered the father’s covert recording of the mother and children was a ‘deceitful act’ which only undermined trust between the parents.

In M v F [2016] EWFC 29 a father was very harshly criticised for sewing ‘bugs’ into his daughter’s school uniform. The Court agreed to hear the recordings but relied on them as a reason that the child should be removed from her father’s care and live with her mother instead. The fact that the father had made the recordings was taken as evidence that he could not meet his child’s emotional needs.

If covert recordings are an issue in your case our specialist family barristers will be able to advise and represent you. If you would like to contact one of our team, please read our simple step-by-step guide, then get in touch with our clerks who will discuss your needs and put you in touch with the barrister best suited to your case.

By Vanessa Long | Family and Children

 


I’ve secretly recorded my ex-partner – will the Family Court listen to it?

Make an Enquiry

Upon receiving your enquiry a public access clerk will contact you within 24 hours to discuss your case in further detail. Please see our 4 steps outlining the process of instructing a public access barrister with Barrister For Me.

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November 20, 2018
Fact-Finding Hearing FAQs

Fact-Finding Hearing FAQs

If you end up in the Family Court following the breakdown of your relationship you may hear the term ‘Fact-Finding’ being used regarding where your children should live or how their time should be split. This will usually occur where there are allegations of domestic abuse; either because your ex-partner was abusive towards you/your children or you are accused of being abusive.

What is a Fact-Finding hearing?

A Fact-Finding hearing is similar to trial where the Court decides whether the alleged abuse happened or not. At the Fact-Finding hearing the Court will consider all the evidence and make a decision on the balance of probabilities, which means that the Court decides whether it is more likely than not that the allegations happened.

The Court can deal with Fact-Finding at the final hearing i.e. at the same time as it decides the arrangements for the children or it may have a separate Fact-Finding hearing.

How and when does the Court decide if a Fact-Finding hearing is needed?

The Court will usually make this decision at the first hearing. However, it must keep this decision under review and may decide at any hearing that Fact-Finding is necessary. One of the factors the Court will consider when making this decision is whether the allegations are relevant to the arrangements for the children e.g. if abuse occurred it may impact on whether a parents’ contact with a child should be supervised or include overnight stays.

What evidence will be used at the Fact-Finding hearing?

This varies widely depending on the allegations. It is usually necessary to have witness statements from all the parties to proceedings. The parents may also want to rely on the evidence of other people e.g. if they witnessed any of the incidents, were told about them afterwards, or if they can give an alibi.

Parties may also rely on copies of text-messages, emails, photos or any other material which supports their case.

If reports of abuse have been made to the police, doctors, local authorities or other organisations, in some circumstances you can obtain the records. You may require a Court Order to obtain these records so you should raise it with your representative and ask the Court about it at the earliest possible point.

Do I have to give evidence in the hearing?

If you have made allegations of abuse or are accused of abuse you will usually be expected to give evidence in Court. This means that you will take an oath or affirmation swearing to tell the truth and you can be asked questions by the other parent’s legal representative.

Where one or both of the parents are unrepresented, the Court may prevent the parent accused of abuse from asking the other parent questions directly. The Court can also be asked to put up screen so that the parents cannot see each other during the hearing.

If you have a Fact-Finding hearing coming up or you think you may need one in your case our specialist family barristers will be able to advise and represent you.

If you would like to contact one of our team, please read our simple step-by-step guide, then get in touch with our clerks who will discuss your needs and put you in touch with the barrister best suited to your case.

By Vanessa Long | Family and Children

 


Fact-Finding Hearing FAQs

Make an Enquiry

Upon receiving your enquiry a public access clerk will contact you within 24 hours to discuss your case in further detail. Please see our 4 steps outlining the process of instructing a public access barrister with Barrister For Me.

Enquire