When you think about hiring a detective, you can’t help but think of a black and white movie; a man in a hat behind a desk in a smoky room. There is an old-timey, sensationalist air when it comes to detectives and private investigators. The truth is that hiring a private investigator is sometimes not glamorous at all, but in fact very practical. In a family law proceeding, especially custody and divorce cases, it can make or break a result for a client.
There comes a time when you have a hunch, or even know for sure, that something dicey is going on with your ex and/or your child’s parent. Depending on the circumstances, the means, and what exactly you think they are up to, it is sometimes necessary to provide something called corroborating evidence.
Corroborating Evidence is a confirmation; evidence that backs up other evidence or a claim. In a divorce case or a custody proceeding, it may help a client very much to provide corroborating evidence of an activity that you suspect or even know that the other party is involved in. In fact, private investigators are very often hired to prove something that a client may already know.
Private investigators are able to:
- Conduct background searches
- Check for criminal activity
- Track comings and goings
- Provide photo and/or video surveillance
So, how does this help you? How do you know if it’s worth it for you to invest in a private investigator?
In a custody case, the evidence a private investigator may provide has the potential to alter the result of your claim or defense. It can change the amount of child support, or of who gets the child and how often (if at all).
In a custody or child support case, a private investigator can:
- Check on the behavior of the other parent. What is that other parent doing with their free time? Where are they going?
- Uncover criminal activity that the other parent might have engaged in, or is currently engaging in. Does the other parent have a past you might not be aware of? Do you think they are getting wrapped up in something unlawful?
- Reveal whether the other parent is engaging in substance abuse. Does that parent need to go to a rehabilitation center before they can be around the children? Are they fit to be in a position of guardianship around your kids?
In a divorce case, chances are you are thinking about one thing that the private investigator can prove: adultery. We had a previous blog post that discussed the effects of adultery on a divorce case here. As you might have guessed, proving adultery is a common task of a private investigator in divorces (or pending divorces). What many people do not know, however, is that a spouse outright saying that they cheated may not be sufficient to prove adultery when it is the only evidence you have.
This supplementary information is very often necessary when it comes to proving adultery. Proving adultery in your New Orleans divorce case can:
- Assign fault to the adulterous party
- Get you divorced quicker
- Cancel a spousal support award
- Nullify a spousal support claim
In addition to suspicions of adultery, you might also suspect that your ex is claiming alimony when they could be working and aren’t. You may be seeking a divorce solely due to your ex’s substance abuse, and want to show that you are not at-fault. You might think your spouse is hiding assets to avoid having to divide them with you. You may even be paying spousal support when your ex has already moved in with another person. All of these things can, and sometimes should, be supported by the kind of evidence that a private investigator can supply.
To weigh the costs and benefits of hiring a private investigator, it is wise to speak to your attorney about the matter. An experienced and knowledgeable lawyer should be able to estimate what you stand to gain in hiring a PI, and whether it is worth it for you to do so. When interviewing with a potential divorce attorney, talk to them about your misgivings and that you are thinking of hiring a private investigator. Your attorney can give recommendations and help you understand the cost and benefits in a way that you can understand.