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Divorce: Can A Private Investigator Help My Case?

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

The temptation to conceal select facts during a trying divorce proceeding is very common, and that dishonesty can have a resounding impact on the outcome of your case. If you believe your spouse is attempting to lie to or cheat the courts, your family lawyer may suggest hiring a Coral Springs private investigator to help ensure that the judge's ruling will based on all the facts – not just a select few that your spouse chooses to disclose.

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An investigator works to uncover facts that can result in a more favorable outcome for the client's case. The decision to hire a private investigator should not be made lightly. Investigator fees and costs are substantial, and an investigation is no guarantee that suspicions of wrongdoing will be confirmed to the extent that they will be addressed in a court of law. Yet many spouses – especially those involved in high stakes divorce cases – find that the up-front expense more than justifies the end result.

Is the parent fit?

Florida Statute 61.13 explains that minor children should have "frequent and continuing contact with both parents after the parents separate or the marriage of the parties is dissolved." Unfortunately, there are times when one parent's improper conduct may require that contact be limited or cease altogether. If a parent suspects conduct which would be detrimental to a minor child, that parent may choose to have the matter investigated. Examples of negative behavior which would likely affect a court's determination regarding shared parental responsibility and timesharing include:

  • alcohol and/or drug abuse (including prescribed medications)
  • driving under the influence (DUI) or other crimes
  • child neglect or abandonment

The complete list of factors considered by the court in cases involving parental responsibility and timesharing can be found in Florida Statute 61.13(3)(a)(t).

Investigation of assets

Florida Statute 61.075 provides that "the court shall set apart to each spouse that spouse's nonmarital assets and liabilities, and in distributing the marital assets and liabilities between the parties, the court must begin with the premise that the distribution should be equal." This concept is referred to as "equitable distribution." One party might fail to disclose the existence of bank and brokerage accounts, real property or valuable personal property in an attempt to defeat equitable distribution. If you suspect your spouse of concealing assets, it may be possible for a private investigator to verify and locate those assets.

Investigation of employment

If a spouse suspects the opposing party is working "under the table" or otherwise lying about his or her employment to avoid the accurate determination of child/spousal support, a private investigator may be able to confirm such suspicions. If your spouse refuses to reveal his or her current employer, an investigator should able to find out. Locating a current employer is particularly important when an income deduction order is issued pursuant to Florida Statute 61.1301.

Spouses who are considering hiring a private investigator should discuss it with their a Coral Springs divorce lawyer first. A spouse may firmly believe that a suspicious situation warrants an investigator, when in fact the situation does not call for it. Conversely, some family law matters are serious enough to require the intervention of law enforcement rather than PIs. By discussing the matter with counsel first, the client will be able to make an informed decision about the effective utilization of a private investigator.

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