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Illinois Custody Cases: Karonis and Tape Recordings

Hearsay is permitted in some contested custody cases. Guardians ad litem can consider hearsay in making recommendations to the court concerning the best interest of a child. In fact, in Illinois a guardian ad litem can even rely on inadmissible evidence that may have been wrongfully obtained, such as by an alleged violation of an eavesdropping statute. In re Marriage of Karonis, 693 N.E.2d 1282 (Ill. App. Ct. 1998).

Is it legal to tape a telephone conversation with a party who has not consented to the taping? The answer is NO. If a child is talking on the phone to a parent, and the other parent believes the conversation should be taped, does this make it legal? NO. A violation of the Illinois eavesdropping statute is arguably a prosecutable offense, and the contents of the wrongfully taped conversation are not admissible. However, the Karonis court allowed the the guardians ad litem in the case to review the illegally taped conversations in formulating their custody recommendations.

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