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Surreptitious Recordings
October 19, 2021
Surreptitious Recordings

In a rather interesting recent case of Van Ruyven v. Van Ruyven, 2021 ONSC 5963, a marijuana cookie fueled the separation of two parties. The parties’ child was taken to the emergency room by the mother after ingesting a small amount of a marijuana-laced cookie that belonged to the father. The cookie was found in the father’s toiletry bag. The mother was panicked over the child’s condition and the father underplayed the incident. In the end, the child was fine. However, one of the main issues on the motion was the secret recordings that the parties made of each other. Each party asked the judge to listen to these surreptitious recordings which encompassed discussions between the parties over who was responsible for the child nibbling on the marijuana cookie, as well as other arguments between the parties.

The judge refused to listen to the parties’ recordings. He found that any probative value that the recordings hold is undermined by policy considerations which call for extreme caution before allowing such recordings to be part of family litigation. The judge noted the following:

[40] It is dangerous to the state of family law and more importantly, to the parties and children governed by it, to treat their dealings as if they were living under the Stasi in East Germany. Not everything is public and not every utterance or gesture needs to be recorded. To the contrary, routinely allowing our courts to reward a party’s attempt to secretly spy on the other by admitting the fruits of that conduct into evidence contributes to the corrosiveness of matrimonial litigation. This approach must be discouraged.

Thus before recording your spouse or partner, consider the fact that your recordings may never be heard by a judge and always remember that family law is based on the best interests of the child. If you require advice on a matter from a family lawyer in Toronto, contact Melekhovets Law to learn more about our services, which includes serving as a trusted divorce lawyer in Toronto.