Bugging and Tape Recording Conversations in Arizona: Is it Legal?Written by Trent R. Wilcox, Esq.
Lawyers often receive inquiries about legalities of recording phone or other conversations in Arizona. In particular, issue frequently arises in family law cases where child custody is at issue. Related to recording issue is "bugging" issue.
There are a number of variables that affect answer to central question, whether it is legal to either record or even bug conversations. First, bugging and recording are two different issues under Arizona law, often related, but also potentially very different under law.
Second, laws regarding bugging and recording vary significantly by jurisdiction so what is legal in one state may be illegal in another. As well, federal law may vary from state laws.
The following is a very brief analysis of bugging and recording law in Arizona:
A. Bugging, otherwise known as wiretapping, typically means placing a device on a phone that allows one to eavesdrop on a conversation or other transmission. Bugging by a private party is considered illegal almost all of time for two reasons primarily: First, it allows someone to listen to a private conversation between two or more unsuspecting parties. Second, bugs are usually placed without permission so you have a number of infractions inherent in such trespass-like activity. If you suspect someone has placed a bug on your phone or other device, you should call police.
B. In case of a telephone or in-person conversation, recording simply means making a copy of conversation between two or more people. Recording is illegal in Arizona if NO party to conversation knows that conversation is being recorded. However, in Arizona, and this varies by state, if one party to conversation knows that conversation is being recorded, it is not illegal. Thus, if someone tape records a phone call or conversation involving him/herself and another person, even one who is unaware of being recorded, that's legal in Arizona. If same person taps into a phone line and records a conversation between two people who are unaware they are being recorded, it is ILLEGAL. Arizona and federal law are similar in this respect; however, recording conversations is illegal in certain other states unless all parties know of recording and consent. There may be some cross-jurisdictional issues involved when tape recording a conversation across state or national boundaries. Prior to tape recording, it is recommended that you consult an attorney in appropriate jurisdiction.
Child Support in the Arizona Family Court: How Do Social Security Benefits Affect Calculations?Written by Trent R. Wilcox, Esq.
Social Security benefits can affect child support in two ways. First, if either parent paying child support (the "obligor") or parent receiving child support (the "obligee") receives Social Security benefits, Arizona Child Support Guidelines require that Social Security benefits be included in determining either parents income. Thus, Social Security benefits help to determine initial child support obligation.
Second, Social Security benefits can affect amount of child support that must be paid out of pocket by parent paying child support. Section 26 of Arizona Child Support Guidelines addresses this issue and states verbatim as follows:
A. Income earned or money received by a child from any source other than court-ordered child support shall not be counted toward either parentís child support obligation except as stated herein. However, income earned or money received by or on behalf of a person for whom child support is ordered to continue past age of majority pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Sections 25-320.B and 25-809.F may be credited against any child support obligation.
B. Benefits, such as Social Security Disability or Insurance, received by a custodial parent on behalf of a child, as a result of contributions made by parent paying child support shall be credited as follows: 1. If amount of child's benefit for a given month is equal to or greater than paying parent's child support obligation, then that parent's obligation is satisfied. 2. Any benefit received by child for a given month in excess of child support obligation shall not be treated as an arrearage payment nor as a credit toward future child support payments. 3. If amount of child's benefit for a given month is less than parent's child support obligation, parent shall pay difference unless court, in its discretion, modifies child support order to equal benefits being received at that time.
C. Except as otherwise provided in section 5.B, any benefits received directly, and not on behalf of a child, by either custodial parent or parent paying child support as a result of his or her own contributions, shall be included as part of that parentís gross income.
The interpretation of Section 26, above, minus some of legalese, is really pretty simple:
A. If a child receives benefits from a source outside of parent paying child support, it will not normally diminish paying parent's child support obligation unless Arizona Child Support Guidelines provide a specific exception. However, if a mentally or physically disabled child receives child support past age of majority, those amounts may be credited toward paying parent's child support obligation. Notice this is a "may" and not a "shall," meaning that court has discretion in this child support matter.