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New York Court Allows Parents to Eavesdrop in Their Child’s Best Interests

A family law case stemming from something that happened back in 2008 has finally made its way all the way through the New York state courts, with the New York Court of Appeals ruling that it was fine for a father to use his phone to eavesdrop on the mother of his child and her new boyfriend to catch them abusing his child.

What Happened

A 5-year-old boy lived with his mother and her new boyfriend – the boy’s father only had visitation rights to see his child. The father noticed that something was wrong when the boy kept making a fuss about being sent home after his visitation period with his father. Curious, the father called the cell phone of the boy’s mother. For whatever reason, the call went through, but no one answered it – the father was able to hear, in the background, the mother and her new boyfriend yelling at the child and threatening to punch him in the face, warning the child that he would “hit him 14 times for lying,” and that it would hurt more than the last beating.

The father recorded the altercation using his cell phone and later presented the recording as evidence after, more than six months later, the police were called on the mother and her boyfriend by their downstairs neighbors and they were both arrested for child abuse.

Evidence Allowed, Despite Wiretapping Laws

Wiretapping laws prevent people from using phones or other electronic means to eavesdrop or otherwise spy on other people. Technically, the father had violated these laws when he listened in on what was going on between the mother of his child and her boyfriend and his own son.

However, the court, in this case, ruled that the evidence obtained from the eavesdropping would be allowed because the father had a “good faith belief” that the recording would be in the best interest of his child, effectively carving out a careful exception in the wiretapping laws to allow parents to better protect their children.

Syracuse Family Law Attorneys at the Bombardo Law Office

It is court rulings like these that are crucial for New York laws to keep up to date with the needs of families throughout the state.

If you have a legal question with regards to your rights as a parent, contact the family law attorneys at the Syracuse-based Bombardo Law Office, P.C. online or at (315) 488-5544.

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