8153 – Think Before You Listen


If you’re thinking of wiretapping your spouse, listen up.  After Kathleen filed for divorce from her husband, Michael, they decided to try reconciliation and began living together again.  Michael was still convinced Kathleen was having an affair and decided to record all incoming telephone calls with a tape recorder hidden under the bed.  Unfortunately for Michael, Kathleen looked under the bed and found the reel thing and, needless to say, the divorce was back on track.  Kathleen then sued Michael for violating the federal wiretapping act, which requires that at least one party to a conversation give consent to recording it.  Since Michael wasn’t a party to any of the conversation, his consent didn’t count.  By the way, most states require all parties’ consent to recording a call.  The Court that first heard the case dismissed it before trial, holding that inter-spousal wiretapping within the marital home is an exception to the federal wiretapping law.  But Kathleen appealed, and the Court reversed, saying if Congress wanted to exempt the marital home, it would have said so.  So Michael’s number may be up and if you’re thinking of wiretapping your spouse, don’t, because you may never get off the hook.


Young v. Young, Michigan Court of Appeals, 6/9/99, Griffin, J., 21 FLR 1511, 9/12/95.