Should I Hire a Private Investigator for My Divorce?
A private investigator (PI) can be a useful asset for a divorcing party, but PIs are certainly not always necessary. If you have no reason to believe your spouse is lying about anything in particular, a PI might not be worth the expense or possible blowback should your spouse discover they are being followed. Moreover, when it comes to your divorce case, there are very specific circumstances under which a PI’s findings can be helpful. If those reasons do not apply to you, then a PI might not be worth the trouble.
Are You Wondering Whether to Divorce?
One of the classic reasons to hire a PI is to catch a spouse having an affair or engaging in other wrongful conduct. If you have your suspicions, but you are unsure whether you should follow through with a divorce, you could consider hiring a PI to investigate. If they can provide definitive proof that your spouse is cheating, or that you actually have no reason to worry, you’ll have more confidence in your final decision.
Was Your Spouse Committing Adultery Around Your Kids?
Adultery might affect your decision about whether to divorce, but it may or may not matter for your divorce case. Like every other state in the modern era, Alabama has no-fault divorce. Most couples divorce based on “irreconcilable differences” or other versions of “no-fault.” There’s no need to hire a PI to catch a spouse cheating or engaging in other bad behavior simply to get a divorce.
Alabama does still have fault grounds on the books. A spouse can file for divorce based on adultery, substance addiction, cruelty, and a few other grounds. You can hire a PI to find evidence of wrongdoing, but if the goal is just to file for divorce, evidence of misconduct is not necessary.
Under certain circumstances, however, wrongdoing can affect your divorce.
Adultery may come into play if your spouse exposed your children to their affair. Infidelity alone may or may not play into a custody decision, but if your children were directly exposed to the affair, the court might not take it kindly. The court’s primary concern is the best interests of the children, and a parent bringing a stranger into the home to conduct an extramarital affair may certainly be viewed as harmful to a child’s emotional well-being. If the paramour is also dangerous for other reasons, such as if they abuse illicit substances or have a criminal background, that could also affect the court’s decision.
Was Your Spouse Wasting Assets?
Adultery might also matter if your spouse used marital assets to further the affair. If your spouse was spending money on lavish gifts or vacations for an extramarital lover or paying for their rent and other expenses, the court could consider that a waste of marital assets not in furtherance of the marriage. A PI can help you gather evidence of their rendezvous and their expenses to show that your spouse was spending your marital money on an extramarital affair. The court may take such evidence into consideration when deciding upon the division of property and alimony obligations. A spouse committing adultery might even be denied alimony, depending on the circumstances.
Is Your Spouse Hiding Assets?
Perhaps the strongest reason to hire a private investigator during divorce is to uncover hidden assets your spouse did not disclose. In a divorce, each spouse is required to disclose all of their income and assets to each other and the court. Each spouse’s finances will affect the court’s decisions concerning child support, property division, and alimony.
If you believe your spouse may be hiding assets, such as by way of offshore bank accounts, you might want to consider hiring an investigator. A PI can track your ex’s accounts, behavior, and other matters to determine whether they are shielding assets from the case. If they are hiding assets, and you bring evidence of those hidden assets to the court, the court could choose to sanction your spouse and give you the edge in your divorce proceeding.
Is Your Spouse a Danger to Your Children?
Hiring a PI may be useful if you are engaged in a custody battle and you fear for the safety of your children. You can seek sole custody or otherwise limit the custodial rights of your spouse if you can demonstrate that their home life or conduct generally creates a dangerous atmosphere for your kids. A PI may be able to gather evidence to help you prove, for example:
- Your spouse is committing acts of domestic violence against you or your children
- Your spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol, especially with your kids present
- Your spouse is engaged in criminal activity, especially with your kids present
- Your spouse allows a criminal element to hang around their house with your children present
- Your spouse has shown evidence of unhinged behavior or mental illness
Photos or videos of your spouse engaging in behavior that is dangerous to your children may be useful in court, assuming the evidence is admissible. Discuss your options with your family law attorney before hiring a PI to ensure that any evidence they obtain is gathered legally and in a format that the court will review.
Is Your Ex Cohabiting With a New Partner?
If you have already divorced, or you are in the midst of a divorce, evidence of a romantic relationship could affect alimony. If you owe spousal support and your ex has begun cohabitating with someone new, you might be able to reduce or eliminate your support obligation. A PI may be able to help you prove that your ex is living with and/or being financially supported by a new partner and thus no longer needs your alimony payments.
There are reasons why a PI may or may not be useful in your case. An experienced Alabama divorce attorney can help you weigh the pros and cons and determine the best course of action for you and your family.