Thanks to decades of mystery novels, cartoons, and crime dramas, when most of us think about private investigators, we envision the Hollywood archetype with the obligatory khaki trench coat and magnifying glass.
In reality, private investigators are good for a lot more than just solving murder mysteries. In addition to criminal investigations, PI’s can be used to conduct background checks, to catch identity thieves, to help people avoid investment scams, to expose fraudulent activity, and more. Private investigators can be especially valuable in family law cases.
Why Hire a Private Investigator for Family Law Matters?
When it comes to matters of family law, there are a few main reasons that people may consider the services of a private investigator.
- Infidelity. Above all else, people who suspect that their spouse may be cheating on them want to know the truth. Facing the matter head on can be very painful, but it allows people to eventually move on, and it is better than living with perpetual fear and doubt. Infidelity can also be a factor when determining alimony.
- Protecting the Children. For those involved in custody battles, one of the main points of contention is the question of who is a more fit parent. While you may strongly dislike your ex, that does little to affect his or her parental rights. On the other hand, providing evidence of illegal or dangerous behavior such as drug or alcohol abuse can directly affect custody arrangements.
- Hiding Assets or Income. One of the oldest tricks in the book is for a wealthy spouse to hide assets prior to an upcoming divorce, in order to keep more when it comes time to equitably distribute marital assets. A private investigator can help to uncover these hidden assets.
Benefits of Hiring a Professional Private Investigator
Conducting a private investigation is better off left to professionals, and there are a myriad of reasons why. First of all, private investigators are licensed by the state and have a firm grasp of what is legal and what is illegal.
You may be able to uncover useful evidence against your spouse on your own, but if it is obtained illegally, your hard earned evidence could get thrown out in legal proceedings. Furthermore, you can even get in legal trouble yourself if you violate the law. There are privacy and stalking laws to take into account.
Another benefit is that private investigators can testify in court on your behalf. Their testimony can potentially carry greater credibility, since they may be evaluated as an impartial contractor who is simply doing their job. They can remain calm and collected and state the facts. Testimony from a scorned spouse, however, is likely to come across as biased or vindictive.
Your private investigator’s emotional detachment can also help in the gathering of evidence. The urge to confront a cheating spouse caught in the act can be overwhelming. Your epic confrontation, while satisfying, means nothing in court if the betrayal wasn’t documented.
For the sake of your court case, what really needs to happen at this point is to make sure the evidence was gathered. Not only will a professional PI have the tools and training to gather the necessary evidence, but they can remain emotionally detached and follow through at the most important moments.
Tips for Hiring a Private Investigator
Before hiring a private investigator, the first thing you should do is consult with your attorney. Your attorney will work together with you and your PI to make sure the right kind of evidence is gathered that is admissible and helps you in court. Your attorney can also recommend reputable investigators that have the right kind of experience for your family law case.
Other questions to ask when considering a private investigator:
- Do you specialize in this kind of investigation?
- How long have you been in business?
- Are you licensed?
- Are you insured?
- Can you provide references?
- Are you available 7 days a week, 24 hours a day?
- Will anyone else be working on my case?
- Are you willing to testify in court?
- What is your hourly rate, and how long will this take?
Once you have decided to use a private investigator, it is very important that you Do Not Tell anyone. Don’t tell your coworker, your best friend, your mother, or anyone else.
You never know who your spouse might be cheating with. It could be the person you least expect. You also can’t be entirely sure where people’s loyalty lies. Someone you told in confidence might want to protect the person you are investigating and tip them off.
The other thing you should never do is conduct your own investigation alongside your PI. Back off and let them do their job. You want to keep a low profile and live your life as normally as possible.
Potential Drawbacks of Hiring a Private Investigator
It goes without saying that most people do not take too kindly to being surveilled by a private investigator. Thus, it can potentially make a case more adversarial. The cheater now has a reason to direct all his or her anger towards you for having the nerve to hire a PI. Spite can certainly play a large role in intensifying courtroom battles.
On the other hand, if the evidence is significant, it may be used as leverage in negotiation and/or a determining factor in a hearing/trial. There also exists the possibility that your suspicions of infidelity are wrong. Apologizing to your innocent spouse for hiring a private investigator on them is not a fun conversation to have. Of course, if you don’t take the straight forward approach, you’ve got a big secret to carry and probably a sizable bill to conceal as well. Neither of these are healthy things for any relationship.
The other obvious drawback is the cost. Private investigators may charge anywhere from $40 to $250 per hour, with the final bill being in the thousands of dollars. In a high net worth divorce, this fee may be negligible in the scheme of things. However, if neither you nor your spouse has any considerable assets to divide, the cost of hiring a PI could certainly outweigh the benefits.
Talk to a Cary Family Law Attorney Today
If you are considering hiring a private investigator, it is in your best interest to speak with an attorney first. Together with you and your PI, we can determine the best course of action for your personal situation. Call Cary divorce lawyers Alexander and Doyle, PA at 919-380-1001 today or fill out the form below to learn more. The information you submit is confidential.