Do You Need a Divorce Private Investigator?
- When is it appropriate to hire a private investigator?
- Should you hire a PI for your divorce case?
- Where to find a PI
Spouses must come to some important agreements before they’re granted a divorce settlement. They must divide their property fairly according to state laws. They must agree to child support and custody arrangements. An alimony agreement may be needed as well. In order to come to agreements that are fair to both parties, they need to be transparent about their lifestyles, income, and assets.
Unfortunately, not all people going through divorce proceedings are honest and forthcoming. They may try to hide income, assets, an affair, or other behaviors that would increase their financial exposure or make them a custody risk.
If one suspects that their soon-to-be ex is not being entirely truthful, they may decide to hire a private investigator to unearth the truth.
When is it appropriate to hire a private investigator for a divorce case?
In most divorce cases, couples want to expedite their dissolution of marriage and will truthfully disclose information so they can move on. But sometimes, divorce becomes adversarial. One spouse may have hidden money or other damaging information from the other. This is when it may be advantageous to bring in a private investigator to find evidence of misconduct.
An investigator can be brought into a divorce case when there are suspicions of any of the following:
- Adultery: In some states, adultery is grounds for divorce. But an affair could also be relevant to the couple’s property division if marital funds were used for gifts or housing for an extramarital partner. In addition, some states prohibit spousal support where the spouse seeking support has been unfaithful.
- Hidden assets: Divorce requires fair property distribution between spouses. Some spouses attempt to conceal assets in preparation for a separation or divorce, hoping to keep them for themselves instead of lawfully sharing them with their spouse.
- Hidden income: When one spouse anticipates having to pay child or spousal support, they may try to make it look like they earn less than they actually do.
- Harmful or illegal behavior: Sometimes, one spouse may have been suspected of engaging in illegal, abusive, or other harmful behavior that would make them a poor candidate for child custody. A private investigator can monitor this party’s activity to look for evidence of this behavior.
- Support modification: When one spouse is seeking child or spousal support modification, they will need evidence of any significant changes in their ex’s relationship or financial picture. A private investigator can be brought in to look for that evidence.
- Missing spouse: Sometimes, a soon-to-be or ex-spouse will go “missing” to get out of being served divorce papers or to elude financial responsibility.
Should you hire a PI?
Concealing financial information during a divorce is not only unethical, but it is also unlawful. If you suspect that your spouse used marital assets to benefit an affair or is hiding assets or income, you will want to get evidence that will be admissible in your divorce case. A PI can do an asset search and possibly discover hidden assets using the tools at their disposal.
Note that having suspicions about your spouse is not enough to get considered by the court. You need concrete evidence. When you believe your spouse is withholding or hiding important financial information or is engaging in dangerous or illegal activity and you want to protect your kids, the evidence provided by a professional private investigator can be critical.
PIs are licensed, trained, and bound by state laws to collect evidence legally. They have access to industry resources, databases, and security clearances that can help them gather videos, photos, and other forms of concrete evidence you might need for your divorce case. A private investigator can also testify on your behalf during your court case.
But these investigations are time-consuming and expensive, and they may not be the best use of your funds during divorce. Unless your spouse’s activities have a significant financial or safety impact on your divorce case, the cost of a PI may outweigh the benefit.
Where to find a PI for your divorce case
Private investigators are hired for many purposes. If you’re working with a family law firm, they may have investigation services to recommend. You might also get a personal recommendation from someone you know. Some states have professional organizations and associations for licensed private investigators.
When you get a name, you will want to meet with this individual in person, ask to see their license and insurance, and check their references. Ask them about their experience and qualifications, which resources they use, and the type of work they do.
Note that investigators who offer budget prices to build their business may not have the resources you need and may even offer substandard service. You want any evidence collected to be gathered legally and able to stand up in court.
Navigating the divorce process can be overwhelming, especially if you suspect that your soon-to-be-ex is not being honest. At Hello Divorce, we offer many plans and services for people just like you who need divorce assistance. Schedule a free consultation to see how we may be able to help.