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This article is part one in a series of articles that
will address some of the common issues and mistakes that we see in
family law matters.
It is often the case in parenting disputes, and particularly
those before the Court, that there is a high degree of conflict
between the parents.
One of the ways this conflict often manifests is through
aggressive and heated exchanges when the children are moving
between the households of the respective parents. This process is
often referred to as ‘changeover’.
It is extremely common for one (or both) parents to make
allegations with respect to the way that the other parent conducted
themselves at changeover.
Another common claim is that the views of children are expressed
in the way they behave at changeover. It may be that a parent
claims a child is very happy to be in their care due to showing
enthusiasm when they come into the parent’s care at changeover.
Conversely, there may be a claim that a child does not want to
spend time with a parent due to reluctance displayed by a child
when entering the parent’s care during changeover.
Whatever the case may be, a common issue arises – how does a
parent prove what they are alleging?
This issue often leads to a parent recording changeovers.
The parent views this as a simple solution to the problem. If
there are disputed facts about what is occurring at changeover,
recording the changeover will provide video evidence which supports
This is a solution that is fraught with issues.
The first issue that arises is whether it is legal to record
another party without their consent. These laws vary state to
state, and you should never record any person unless you have
received advice that this is legal.
The second issue that arises, is that recording a changeover can
make your children and the other parent extremely uncomfortable.
Changeover is already likely to be a difficult experience for a
child and being recorded can make them even more uncomfortable.
Children are extremely perceptive to conflict between parents and
recording changeover may exacerbate the children’s exposure to
this conflict, which is contrary to the best interests of a
With respect to the other parent, they may feel harassed and
intimidated by this behaviour. Not only would this be
inappropriate, but it would be viewed very poorly by the Court.
Another potential issue which may arise, is that the Court may
take the view that a parent recording the changeover is not
attending the changeover for the primary purpose of spending time
with the children. Instead, the parent may be seen as attending
changeover primarily to obtain evidence to further their position
before a Court by obtaining beneficial evidence.
A parent who plans to record changeovers should also be mindful
that the footage may have little evidentiary value. The very act of
recording a changeover may call into question the accuracy of what
is depicted. For example, there may be a suggestion that a parent
provoked another parent into behaving a certain way to allow that
behaviour to be caught on camera.
It is obvious that there is a plethora of issues that arise with
If you intend to record a changeover, you should seek legal
advice with respect to whether this is legal and appropriate.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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