Adultery, Child Custody and Alimony: Private Investigators and Family Law Matters

Adultery, Child Custody and Alimony: Private Investigators and Family Law Matters

In Child Custody, Separation & Divorce by Pat Williams

Adultery, Child Custody and Alimony: Private Investigators and Family Law MattersIf you are interested in finding a private investigator for your domestic case, please find someone who focuses on this aspect of investigation rather than a generalist.  When making your selection to locate a private investigator, be sure to select one that specializes in Family Law Investigations.  Those who are seasoned professionals know and understand the evidence necessary in order to prevail in court. Here are three primary ways private investigators assist in family law investigations.

  1. Adultery.  There are two elements of adultery. Inclination which is the show of affection, handholding, kissing, hugging or even a touch on the face is a strong indicator your husband or wife and this significant other person are more than just friends. Additionally, it is the responsibility of the investigator to find opportunity, the second element of adultery. Opportunity is that your husband or wife and their significant other would be alone together for a reasonable period of time and, more likely than not, a sex act took place.  It does not have to encompass an 8 X 10 glossy picture to be convincing, but the two elements do have to be present.  It does not matter where this opportunity takes place as it could be a hotel, in the back seat of a car, at a friend’s house etc. In addition, it is important to show a pattern of behavior that he or she does this today and next week and establishes this pattern as ongoing.  This evidence has to be obtained prior to date of separation.
  2. Child Custody.  Private investigators are also used in child custody cases. All parents want to know that their child is safe when visiting the other parent. There may be a concern that drinking is involved when kids are with their mom or dad for visits.  In this case, it would be my objective to watch the kids during visitation. While out to dinner with the kids, I would also watch for any alcohol purchased during that time and count the number of alcoholic drinks consumed.  If it is consistent with more than an adult should consume and operate a vehicle, then it should be documented and, if inebriated, inform law enforcement if possible.  It is also necessary to understand the laws with regard to child restraints as well as age appropriate seating front or back and include in an investigative report should a violation be observed. More often than not, video or photographs will be taken throughout the investigative process.
  3. Alimony.  Court ordered alimony is another type of investigation when a private investigator is utilized. There is an amount paid to the spouse awarded as alimony either by consent or ordered by the court for whatever reason. Sometimes it is consistent with the number of years of marriage and the spouse receiving the alimony is partially or totally dependent upon the other’s income. Hence, alimony is to be paid for a determined period of time.  Sometimes the length of time that alimony is to be paid is until the dependent spouse remarries, depending on the contractual agreement or a set number of years.  Whatever the case, a third-party clause for co-habitation purposes is usually in the order.  This is to protect the one paying the alimony. If the other party is receiving the alimony and residing with her boyfriend or girlfriend this can be considered co-habitation and may be a violation of the agreement or order.  Should that occur, a private investigator would watch, document and surveil to determine if the party receiving alimony indeed resides with another person.  A private investigator would watch for activities resembling much like a married couple would experience.  Sharing bank accounts or a business together or attending social events such as church, weddings, trips etc. are examples. Doing yard work together or cutting grass at the same residence would also be an indicator. Documentation of the dependent spouse and their significant other coming out of the same residence together in the morning and/or after work, returning to the same location and spending multiple nights together at the same residence is also evidence of cohabitation.

Private investigators are licensed in the state they reside, however, there are other states that do have reciprocity.  Be sure to check out their credentials and find out if they have had any complaints or violations against them. As always “due diligence” is your responsibility, and you want to ensure the private investigator you choose for your family law investigation is experienced and knowledgeable.


Pat Williams
Pat Sauls Investigative Services