Family Law Investigations: 5 Things Every Spouse Should Know
When couples go through a contested divorce, there is almost always a lot of finger pointing, accusations, and demands from both sides. For both the attorneys and the court, separating fact from fiction can sometimes be a challenge. In these cases, it’s not uncommon for one or both attorneys to commision a family law investigation to help discern the truth.
What Is A Family Law Investigation?
A family law investigation typically refers to one or more attorneys in a divorce case hiring a licensed private investigator to gather information about a variety of aspects of a spouse’s personal and professional life.
Some common things a private investigator will attempt to verify in relation to a divorce case include:
- Where a spouse is living
- Where a spouse is working
- How much money a spouse is earning
- How often a spouse is home
- If a spouse is living with another person
- How a spouse treats their children
A private investigator will also look through court records for civil and criminal judgements, and they may also perform a detailed background check.
How Are Investigations Conducted?
Private investigators have a wide range of tools and techniques available to help aid their search for information. Couples going through a contested divorce, especially those who are seeking custody of children, should know the following:
1) Investigations Can Include Multiple States
If a spouse has recently relocated out of state, or is working in another state, that will not necessarily prevent a family law investigation from happening.
While most lawyers and private investigators are licensed to work on a state-by-state basis, this doesn’t preclude them from contracting with another investigator based in the new state a spouse is working and/or living in.
2) GPS Tracking Is A Common Thing
GPS tracking, which is possible with virtually every car and mobile phone made in the last decade, is an inexpensive way for investigators to gather evidence.
Tracking can provide invaluable information about when a parent is (or isn’t) home with a child, if they’re taking them to school and appointments on time (or at all), and even if they are driving recklessly.
3) Social Media Can Be Used As Evidence
Here’s a pro tip: If you’re going through a difficult divorce, do not post disparaging remarks about your spouse online. At all. Ever.
Private investigators can, and will, look through a spouse’s social media history to find evidence that can either corroborate or contradict the claims they are making in their divorce case. This can have a big impact on things like child custody, division of assets, and alimony.
4) Background Investigations Are Critical
Background investigations are crucial in child custody cases. Each parent’s background will likely be scrutinized for any interactions with the law, their general character and conduct, and who they associate with.
The information obtained in a background check will be used and weighed (among other factors) by the judge to determine the best interests of the child.
5) Surveillance Can Make Or Break A Case
While it can be a bit unnerving to think about a private investigator observing a spouse’s behavior without their knowledge, doing so is often necessary. Accusations are often made in divorce cases that can be difficult or impossible to prove or disprove.
This can be especially true in child custody cases where one parent is alleging child abuse, alienation, or just all-around bad parenting from the other.
False accusations and bad conduct by parents are very important to the court when considering the interests of the child and surveillance is often the only way to prove or disprove allegations.
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