Hiring a private investigator may seem like an extravagant move when leaving your marriage, but in some cases it can mean the difference between winning and losing in battles over money and children. Hiring a private eye during your divorce might sound invasive, but it is a perfectly practical way of protecting yourself (without having to sneak around on your own).
Reasons to Hire a PI
1. Find Hidden Money
Private investigators are beneficial in discovering hidden assets because they have access to select databases and records that the average person won’t find. While you may know about bank accounts with your name attached, an investigator may quickly find your spouse has secret accounts with hidden money.
2. Prove Infidelity
You may know that your spouse is cheating, but you’ll need proof if you want this to help you in your divorce. If you’re getting a divorce regardless of whether infidelity occurs, you should still find out about — and prove — your spouse’s adultery, as it certainly won’t hurt your case when it comes to collecting or paying spousal support. While a private investigator can’t access your spouse’s phone records, they may have the skills necessary to recover deleted internet communication that proves infidelity. Since you’ve given the permission to access the family computer, this information is admissible in court.
3. Win a Custody Battle
A videotape showing your spouse overly intoxicated or driving recklessly while dropping the kids off at school could help you out with custody. Even without a video, a private investigator could call the police upon catching your spouse in the act of doing something illegal.
How to Hire Private Detective
- Check for identification and certification. Run a background check on your investigator, and don’t hire from a suspicious website. You could be liable for your investigator’s illegal acts.
- Have a specific contract. Know exactly what your investigator is providing and what you will be paying for those services. A good PI will tell you what they are doing; beware of private investigators who refuse to reveal their sources or methods. They may be violating the law–exposing you to liability.
- Ask for references. Better yet, hire based on referrals from your friends. Interview your potential hire and talk about past cases where a client was helped by the services.
- Check for liability insurance. If your investigator damages someone’s property while on the job, you could be liable; make sure the one you hire has adequate coverage.
- Note that, while your PI should know what information is inadmissible in court, you should check with an attorney before blabbing to a judge that someone has been snooping on your spouse. Make sure information is retrieved legally — and know whether retrieving certain information legally is even possible before you hire someone to help you.
I didn't know that a private investigator could be helpful for divorce cases. This may be something that people with children may want to look into. Custody battles can be intense and having proof against your partner can be very helpful.
Private Investigators in Divorce or Child Custody Cases – Previte & Nachlinger | NJ Divorce Attorneys
[…] and testimony are not sufficient to really support some of the issues in such a case. Sometimes a private investigator can help discover additional evidence to support allegations in a divorce of […]
I also operate a Private Investigative Agency, located in Tampa, Florida. I agree with the above comments from Mr. Ware. Be very aware of the agency you are hiring and be sure they are licensed and insured. Reputable investigative agencies should be able to provide proof of licensure and insurance, as well have references from law firms they have done work with. Family law is popular area of interest for investigators, but they can also be used for Criminal Defense, Personal Injury, Espionage, Missing Persons, and many areas of special interest. Consult your attorney and make sure your investigator speaks with your attorney throughout the investigation as well. While some greedy law firms will not recommend an investigator, the reputable firms will not see investigative fees as a burden (some attorney's feel money spent on investigators is money that could be spend on attorney fees instead). Personally I would only hire a law firm that uses investigators on a regular basis. They are typically trial minded firms that understand the importance of gathering evidence for your case.
I would like to thank you for such a great information share with us here. I have own business and also want to hire a private investigators for my business. Definitely, I will consider your points before hire a private investigators.
Thanks for the article! I own a private investigation firm in Austin, Texas. We specialize in family law. To give you an idea of your investment, the average case is about 15 hrs. We charge on the hourly basis and our hourly fee is $95. If you do the math, you can expect to pay about $1425 for an average case but we give a small discount and round it down to $1400. This is about the average rate in Austin for private investigators. Some investigators are in the $120 an hr range and at the low end, about $60-$70 an hr. Sometimes costs vary by specialty, e.g., a forensic computer specialist will command higher fees.
In order to be licensed in Texas, all private investigation agencies must carry 1 million dollars in liability insurance (which is not cheap).
Lastly, most pi firms charge the consumer .50 cents a mile in mileage. As a company, we decided not to charge gas mileage as long as the driving remains in Travis County - it is much easier bookkeeping wise to do this and it is a little extra incentive for the consumer - but of course that is how we do it. Other private investigation firms will have their own rules and procedures.
One other hint, try to find a local private investigator. There are several National Companies who advertise that they have investigators in every state. They simply subcontract with a local pi. You end up paying more. However, one benefit of hiring a "national firm" is that you get an extra layer of supervision. Personally, I have worked with some of these firms in the past. They are generally reputable people and good investigators but is much more expensive because they receive a fee as well.
In other parts of Texas I hear that the hourly rate for a private investigator is much lower. Last I heard, was that the hourly rate of a private investigator in the Dallas area hovered around $50 an hr. In the private investigation profession, cheaper does not mean better. You really do get what you pay for.
Previously I referred to our services as an investment. Although not always the situation, we can frequently blow the lid right off a case. When private investigation works, it works well. The judges have no issue with hiring a private investigator, simply because they know that hiring a private investigator is the only way to get at some information. One "money shot" can win your case and save you a bunch of money in attorney fees and court related costs, plus you get a much better result at trial. It is not uncommon for a case to settle out of court depending on what evidence we find.
So there you have it - maybe a little information about costs will give you a better idea what is involved financially and what to expect when hiring a private investigator. Remember, conversations with the private investigator is confidential.