Using Smart Home Evidence in Family Law Cases

Smart Home technology is all the rage lately. Everyone seems to have a digital device, whether it be Siri on an iPhone, a Google Home, an Alexa, Ring security cameras, doorbell cameras, and more. While this smart home technology certainly can make our lives easier, the way these devices can impact court proceedings is widely unknown. In criminal proceedings, subpoenas have been issued to try and obtain the recordings from smart devices to large companies such as Google, or Amazon, but the issues largely are resolved before any of these large companies have to comply. In Illinois, family law and divorce cases use these devices a bit differently.

Obtaining Smart Home Recordings

Recordings from Your Own Smart Devices

In family law cases, this is usually simple to do. Someone produces a video. Let’s say it is a neighbor who produced their doorbell footage of you and your spouse arguing on your front lawn. The neighbor can produce the video via subpoena, or can voluntarily produce it. The neighbor can be subpoenaed to testify that:

  • they were watching the event as it was recorded live,
  • that their camera recorded the same event that they witnessed,
  • how they downloaded the video onto some sort of device, and
  • send it to the attorney, etc.

The testimony of the neighbor is usually enough for the video to come into evidence in a family court case and then the court will review the footage, which should corroborate the story told by the parties in the case and the neighbor.

Recordings from Doorbell Cameras

People do really crazy things in front of doorbell cameras. It can capture exchanges of children for parenting time, exchanges of money for support, conversations between estranged spouses or exes, and more. People tend to forget they are there. However, the footage can be helpful in certain situations and could be admitted in a family law case.


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