Can You Record Your Former Partner Without Their Consent in Ontario

You may be tempted to video-record your former partner when they’re with your child for safety reasons. More so, if you suspect that their actions are negatively influencing your child or children.

Before you start video recording your former partner and their private conversations, there are things you should know to avoid adverse legal consequences. Everyone has a right to enjoy their privacy without unsolicited interruption. So, can I record my partner, or can I record a conversation with my ex? Here is an answer from our divorce lawyer Toronto.

Is It Against the Law to Video Record someone?

We can also put it this way: Is it illegal to video record someone without their consent? It’s illegal to video record someone or their conversations without their consent in Ontario—including your conversations with them. Doing so can attract criminal charges and civil liability.

Many people assume that buying or owning a recording tool automatically gives them the freedom to record anything. What they fail to understand is that recording people without their consent is a breach of privacy laws.

It is important to obtain the consent of all parties involved before recording conversations. You need to understand the rules before being a superhero. Otherwise, you’ll undoubtedly end up in court.

Video Recording Laws in Ontario

There are no specific laws on video recordings in Canada, so it has adopted the audio recording rule or the one-party consent rule defined in section 184 of the criminal code.

This rule criminalizes the recording of conversations where two people are involved, provided one person consents to the recording. For instance, suppose more than two people are on a call. In this case, any party can record the call without notifying the other participants. Consent is only required from one participant.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

The reasonable expectation of privacy is a legal principle that protects people from unsolicited intrusions into their personal spaces or lives by others. This principle is enshrined in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Individuals have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their personal information, physical spaces, and communications or conversations. Consequently, you must have a valid reason or consent to intrude on or access these areas or information.

Reasonable expectation of privacy gives individuals the autonomy to control how personal information is collected, used, and disclosed. The right to privacy can be limited or denied in some cases. In other words, reasonability can vary by circumstance.

Is Recording a Conversation Legal in Canada?

Reasonable expectation of privacy applies in specific areas of your house, including bedrooms, bathrooms, changing rooms, etc. The rule of thumb is: it’s illegal to record a private conversation or a conversation you’re not a party to. This is called wiretapping in legalese.

However, this rule poses challenges regarding shared spaces or areas under surveillance. For instance, people sharing a house under surveillance cannot claim a reasonable expectation of privacy in court.

Can My Ex Record Me Without Permission?

As stated above, it’s legal to audio or video record someone without their consent. That said, your ex can’t record your conversations without your permission.

There’s an exception to this rule, though. Your ex can record your conversations in public places like sidewalks and streets, among others. Additionally, they can record you if they have a valid reason to do so.


By law, non-participants are prohibited from listening in or recording conversations. As per section 184 of the criminal code, it’s illegal to intercept private communications via electromagnetic, acoustic, or mechanical devices.

Where Can You Video Record Legally in Canada?

Here are the places you can legally video record in Canada:

  • On private property but with the owner’s consent.
  • Public spaces where a reasonable expectation of privacy doesn’t apply, including sidewalks, streets, public parks, and more.
  • Private properties that allow photography.

When You Can’t Video Record in Canada

  • At night, outside someone’s home. While it’s still inappropriate to record someone outside their home during the day, Canada’s Criminal Code 177 specifically prohibits night recordings.
  • When the target person has a reasonable expectation of privacy, like in bathrooms or changing areas. This is covered under the Criminal Code of Canada 162.1.
  • On private properties that expressly prohibit photography.

Additional restrictions may apply for commercial photographers and some public areas.

Can I sue someone for recording me without my permission in Canada?

Yes, because it is generally illegal to record someone without their consent in Canada. Depending on the circumstances, you may have grounds to sue the person for violating your privacy rights.

It is advisable to seek legal advice to determine the specific laws and options available in your particular case. A family lawyer will review your case and recommend the optimal resolution strategy.

Can You Record a Phone Call Without Consent in Canada?

In Canada, it is illegal to record a phone call without the consent of all parties involved. Calls can only be recorded without consent by law enforcement or national security.

Consent is typically implied if the participants reasonably expect the call to be recorded. For instance, when a recording is played at the beginning of the call to notify the parties that the call may be monitored or recorded.

Can Secret Recordings Be Admissible Evidence in Court?

Using secret recordings as court evidence may be legal or illegal. In other words, it depends on the circumstances surrounding the recording. Here are the factors that determine the admissibility of evidence in court:

  • Relevance
  • Reliability, and
  • Whether it was obtained legally or illegally.

If the recording was obtained unlawfully, like a breach of privacy or in violation of wiretapping laws, it might be inadmissible evidence. Using secret recordings can also raise issues of privacy and confidentiality.

The admissibility of secret recordings is a complex issue and depends on the specific facts of your case. That said, it’s advisable to consult a family lawyer to help you understand the legal requirements and potential risks of submitting secret recordings as evidence in court.

What are the Legal Consequences of Violating Privacy Laws?

The legal consequences of violating privacy laws can vary by jurisdiction. However, they can include the following:

  • Civil or criminal penalties
  • Fines
  • Damages
  • Injunctions, or
  • Jail time

In addition to the above legal consequences, offenders may suffer reputational damage, resulting in loss of prospects—business or employment opportunities.

How Can a Family Lawyer Help?

You can be tempted to record your ex without their consent for many reasons. In Canada, recording people secretly is illegal because it violates privacy laws.

While privacy is protected under the law, you may record your ex without their consent in special circumstances. A family lawyer can advise you on when recording an ex without consent is legal.

Contact Simple Divorce Today

The lawyers at Simple Divorce are skilled in family law. They handle all issues related to divorce settlements, separations, and privacy laws, among others. Always remember that the outcome of your case is significantly dependent on your legal team.

Why should you work with Simple Divorce? We offer free consultations, and our team is friendly and dedicated. Additionally, you get to choose an ideal payment plan, plus we give our clients affordable retainers. Contact us at 14169017992 or to learn more about how we can offer you legal help.