In a divorce, there are many important decisions to be made. Decisions about property division, alimony, child support, child custody, and parenting time cannot be made without true information. When a divorcing spouse suspects that there may have been misrepresentations or even fabrications, a private investigator may be able to get to the truth.
In most cases, your attorney will be the one to hire the private investigator, or “PI.” A PI is someone who is trained and licensed to seek out, verify and analyze information through surveillance, questions, general fact-finding, and review of public sources of information.
Getting to the facts, not just the records
A PI is often useful when you need to challenge the facts being claimed by your divorcing spouse. For example, your ex may claim that they are only making a certain amount of money. The determination of your ex’s income affects a lot of issues, including property division, alimony, and child support.
A PI could seek out your ex’s tax returns as a starting point, as those are generally provided to you as part of the divorce. The investigator could then follow up on the return by interviewing your ex’s employer to ensure that the tax return is accurate. Some people with cash incomes, for example, sometimes fail to report the full extent of their income. A PI may be able to determine if that is happening in your ex’s case.
Finding evidence of child abuse or neglect
Another task PIs are frequently asked to handle is determining whether a parent is unfit. Sometimes, one parent is concerned that the other parent is neglecting or abusing the children. A PI might interview the children or the adults in the children’s lives, like teachers and counselors or other family members.
Ideally, a good PI can assist you in confirming suspected child abuse and neglect so that the court can take appropriate steps to protect the children. Based on a credible private investigator’s report, a court might deny or restrict custody or require parenting time to be supervised.
Confirming hidden assets or infidelity
Sometimes, the reason for a disagreement over facts is one spouse’s dishonesty or infidelity. It can be important to the outcome of your divorce in North Carolina to find out if your spouse cheated during the marriage, for example. A private investigator can often find evidence of infidelity, including when the cheating started and how long it went on. This can affect your entire divorce process and can strongly limit your exposure to financial issues such as spousal support. The evidence discovered may also give rise to third-party claims such as alienation of affection and criminal conversation.
Or, your spouse could be hiding assets or debts from you and the courts. A good PI can find a trail of hidden assets or debts, such as property being left in the hands of relatives, income that wasn’t reported, or secret debts that have been taken out.