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NSW Custody of Children - Voice Recording of My Child Admissible in Court?

Discussion in 'Family Law Forum' started by Inquisitive, 11 July 2015.

  1. Inquisitive

    Inquisitive Active Member

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    I have noticed that over the past few months there have been incidents where my children have flocked to me more than usual and their good behaviour and respect toward their mother has diminished.

    I have been suspecting that some form of emotional or physical abuse has been taking place whilst I'm not home and therefore one night when returning home from work, I decided to activate the voice recorder on my mobile phone just before I walked into the front door.

    As soon as I opened the door, my two youngest aged 6 and 9 run to me yelling out 'daddy, daddy, daddy's home' and proceed to hug my legs. I was led into another room of the house away from my wife where they have proceeded to tell me things that their mother was mean to them, how that made them feel and how it had upset them and made them cry. Needless to say, it was what you would consider a form of emotional abuse and the children felt rejected by their mother.

    Over time there has been a number of incidents where I have noticed my wife just lose her temper really badly toward the kids. It was only a few days ago where I just recorded my wife yelling at my 9 year old from the other room and then he ran to me in the bedroom crying stating that his neck hurts and that his mother just squeezed it.

    Her behaviour these past few months has forced me into beginning separation proceedings and I have a mediation appointment booked soon. I also reported the incident to DOCs and have warned the mother that I have done so and if she ever did it again I will go to the police. Mediation cannot come fast enough.

    I would like to know whether if, this ends up in a family law court custody of children dispute, the multiple voice recordings I have will have weight and be permissible in court? Some are recordings of just the children disclosing to me what has happened and how it makes them feel. Others are recordings of my wife [unbeknownst to her] verbally abusing the children, putting me down in front of the children, physically assaulting me, rejecting the children and being intoxicated and just yelling at everybody for any reason she deems fit.

    I hear and read all this information about breaking the silence on victims of child abuse, but then I read that audio recordings are not permissible in court? Without the recordings there is no evidence to protect those most vulnerable to abuse. Surely audio recordings must hold some weight?

    Thank you.
     
  2. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    Audio recordings quite often are admissible in court provided they've been attained legally, so you should keep them, but it can sometimes backfire dependent on the nature of discussion in the recording. If you've asked the kids leading questions, for example, the court may not give it as much weight.
     
  3. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    If I may, who has residency of the kids following separation? You or the mother?
     
  4. Inquisitive

    Inquisitive Active Member

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    Thankyou. At the moment we are Separated Living Under the Same Roof. We are currently all in the same home until mediation assists with the terms of separation. We both want the children, however I am fearful that because sometimes I am required to stay back late at work (emergency services), work some nights, work some Sunday afternoons and also my chronic medical condition, that the mother may be deemed more suitable for continuity of care looking after the children. There is more to the story and her history than what I would write here. I just wanted to know that if it comes down to the welfare of a child, if non-persuaded one-way confessions of a child would weigh on their behalf in court.
     
  5. Inquisitive

    Inquisitive Active Member

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    If I have spoken in the audio recording, it would only be to ask the question "how does that make you feel?".
     
  6. AllForHer

    AllForHer Well-Known Member

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    It's very important that you consider the next steps very carefully. Once residency is decided - that is, who has the kids once you or the mother move out - it is often very difficult, time consuming and costly to have that arrangement changed, even by the court.

    Your work arrangements may not be 100% ideal, but neither is the work arrangement of any other working parent, really. What is of greater concern is who can better meet the children's best interests, which includes emotional, intellectual, physical and psychological well-being. If, in the care of their mother, the children are experiencing some forms of abuse, then it may be better that they live with you, and you simply make alternative arrangements for their care when you're late home from work, such as after-school care.

    If the children were at risk of harm and you acknowledged this but decided not to take them into your care, then the court would likely question why you didn't act to protect them at the time of separation.

    It might be a good idea to speak to Relationships Australia about doing a post-separating parenting course which helps separating parties communicate more amicably, and also a child consultation, which is an informative session that provides information about children's emotional well-being and suitable care arrangements for both them and you. I highly recommend doing both - they're very valuable and insightful at a time when you feel like you have to start from scratch with little guidance.

    I hope this helps.
     
  7. Inquisitive

    Inquisitive Active Member

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    Thankyou for the insight. I appreciate it.
     
  8. Tim W

    Tim W Lawyer

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