Interestingly, the topic of using a private detective during divorce hasn’t come up much during my interviews, perhaps that’s not surprising since I try to focus on life after divorce and not life during divorce. Nevertheless, I suspect that quite a number of my readers are people who are considering divorce or may be in the midst of the legal process and may even be wondering if a private detective could help them. Here to answer that question is today’s guest post from Jonathon Rodriguez:
Why Hire a Private Detective?
Whether you are currently involved in a divorce or child custody case, hiring a private investigator might be the difference between failure and success. A private detective is a professional at gathering facts that are admissible in court – which hold up during interrogation, rather than hearsay or innuendo. He or she will gather documents and witnesses that your spouse is in the wrong.
While many people will consider instigating an investigation when infidelity is concerned, it can also be effective in child custody cases for visitation rights, discovering abuse, contempt cases, establishing that your spouse is hiding property or finances and determining the truth about assets, income and employment.
Private investigators are beneficial in discovering hidden assets because they have access to select databases and records – records that the average individual cannot find. While you may know about bank accounts with your name attached, an investigator may find your spouse has multiple accounts with hidden money and chances are a PI can find this out much quicker than you can.
Another common use for a detective is in uncovering infidelity. While you may have your suspicions, a professional can act on your instincts to uncover facts. Even if you have nothing more than your own intuition, or maybe a few hotel receipts or restaurant bills, an unknown number on your phone bill or changed work hours, a detective can discover what is really happening and that may be critical in a custody battle.
For individuals with children, hiring an investigator may be more of a necessity particularly if you have concerns about your spouse’s behavior towards your children, such as possible abuse or neglect. Perhaps your spouse is an alcoholic or the living conditions aren’t proper for your children. You need hard evidence to support your claim for increased or sole custody and that evidence could be very be challenging for you to secure on your own.
How to Hire a Private Detective
Know that hiring a private detective will likely to put more strain on your divorce, and it is an added expense. Only you will know if that additional expense is worth it. As with hiring any professional there are key criteria to check:
- Always check whether the person has a license. While this is a necessity for many states, you should do your own research and ask to see a copy of his or her license.
- Carefully consider the contract. It should state in writing exactly what services you expect them to undertake and what their fees are for such services. You do not want any surprises.
- If you are looking at private investigators that charge hourly rates (as many of them do), ask for an estimate on how many hours they will devote to your case.
- Ask for references. Many private detectives will refer you to past clients, and if they don’t, you might want to consider someone else. After all, an investigator with little real-life experience might not be the best for your case.
- Ask to see their liability insurance and proof of bonding. If the detective happens to damage anyone’s property while on your case, you do not want to be liable. If they have insurance, look over their coverage to make sure it is adequate.
Work closely with your lawyer. Your lawyer can let the detective know what sort of evidence would be beneficial to your case, rather than spending time and money on something that will not add any value. Make sure you are completely upfront with your detective. It might seem embarrassing to air your dirty laundry, but it is important that you are completely honest and tell them all the details that might help. If you have any concerns, make sure you bring them up with both your attorney and your private investigator.
I have had some experience working with a private detective in a previous work capacity and I know that the gentleman I used had access to subscription databases. It was definitely less expensive and faster for my employer to pay the detective than pay for the database subscription and have me fumble my way around.
Your attorney should be a great resource for referrals and that’s a good way of making sure you hire someone with the skills you need. A forensic accountant is going to help uncover hidden assets but may not have the skills for surveillance. But be careful what you ask for. One of my guests, Debbie used a computer data recovery expert to retrieve information from the family computer that her husband had “deleted.” The evidence he uncovered told Debbie that her husband’s infidelity was much worse than she suspected and it was a reality she could not ignore.
Have you used a PI? Why? Did you act on the information that was uncovered? Did it make your divorce harder? Was it worth it?
Jonathan Rodriguez is an expert in the field of private investigation and is associated with North American Investigations. A proven track record of successful cases springs from his law enforcement heritage that goes back three generations. He has several certificates of completion including (but not limited to) Combat Focus Shooting, Advance Techniques of Personal Security and Advanced Executive Protection Tactics. There’s no case too small or “unimportant.” As a father of 3 children, Jonathan’s interest in child welfare is evident in his workload. He has effectively solved cases involving missing children and believes that a nations strength begins within the walls of the home.
Photo credit: newhousedesign