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  • Dean Smith

Protect Your Divorce Case Before You File: The Crucial Role of The Private Investigator

Using private detectives prior to filing for divorce is a powerful move. You can begin court proceedings with accurate information verified by a third party, protect yourself by gathering evidence to refute falsified claims, or develop incontrovertible proof that your spouse is at fault, regardless of their claims.

Divorces are messy, even when a couple is splitting amicably. The more assets and dependents involved, the more complicated the process.

Regardless of fault, or whether the spouses maintain a communicative relationship, it’s not unusual for disagreements to arise. Couples often differ over the method of divorce, the events that caused, or contributed, to their relationship’s disintegration, child custody arrangements, and the fair division of their assets and property.

When inaccurate information is presented to the court that suggests that one spouse has to make significant, and long term, payments, or lose parental rights to their children, it’s unsurprising that divorce proceedings often turn into lengthy, bitter, contests.

The story is a common one. A spouse comes out on the wrong side of a divorce due to fabricated allegations or misrepresented events. Fortunately, it’s an avoidable tale.

Private detectives are the best defense against misinformation, or, in some cases, your best offense when you need to set the record straight.

Busting the Myths: What Can Private Investigator’s Do for Your Divorce Case?

Private detectives are professionally trained investigators who gather, verify, and analyze information using a variety of specialized approaches, including research, interrogation, surveillance. Licensed investigators often use investigative methods unavailable to the average citizen, and possess access to federal, state, and/or local information systems that enable a detective’s ability to sift through what is factual and what is not.

Although Hollywood has glamorized the role of the private detective, many investigators work with commercial establishments for legal purposes, such as insurance companies or law firms who demand the utmost in professionalized behavior and reporting.

This is the quality individuals can expect when contracting a private detective, and many specialize in divorce cases; an area where discreet investigations is critical to success.

Acrimonious divorces often hinge on events that one spouse would rather the court remained ignorant, such as deceitful behavior, domestic violence, or adultery, and private investigators are trained to explore these subjects quietly, developing, sifting, and analyzing the evidence most pertinent to a divorce proceeding.

Specifics: What Private Investigator’s Do for a Divorce Case

Private investigators typically perform three important functions regarding divorce: Assist in determining the legitimacy of fault, analyze a couple’s fiscal and asset status, and verify whether accusations of dangerous behavior, particularly when involving a child, are fabricated.

Develop the Evidence to Prove, or Refute, Allegations

Divorce filings often include a fault determination, i.e. one or both partner’s state whether a fault exists, it’s nature, and the responsible party(s). In New Jersey, a “fault divorce” is based on one spouse’s misconduct, and how this behavior contributed to the divorce. This can influence a court’s decisions regarding alimony, property division of property, and/or custody agreements.

Traditional fault grounds, allegations of cruelty (the infliction of physical or emotional pain), adultery, desertion, and sexual dysfunctions not disclosed prior to marriage. Each of these grounds can be devastating in a divorce case, and judges will almost certainly require proof before rendering a decision based on this type of allegation, and private detectives are often the only reasonable means an individual can use to develop this evidence.

Securing proof of spousal fault on your own is inadvisable. Few judges view such behavior favorably, and an untrained or emotional spouse can place their case in a risky position when attempting to develop their own evidence without the guidance of a licensed investigator. Investigators trained to explore fault, and avoid the difficult, and sometimes dangerous, situations that can arise. Perhaps most importantly, private detectives conduct their investigations with the expectations of a court of law in mind.

Asset Analysis: Property Division

It’s a rare case where both partners agree on the division of their assets, and few people can, or should, expect such a harmonious divorce. Whether the spouses disagree regarding fiscal responsibilities, e.g. car payments, mortgages, or medical bills, and the ownership of real property, such as a house or land, investigators can develop a verifiable asset list from a variety of sources. This allows attorneys to use an investigator’s research to build a more complete picture of a couple’s assets and create an accurate plan for the division of assets following their divorce.

Private detectives are particularly beneficial when both partners suspect that assets are being hidden. While many may hope or wish otherwise, the practice of obscuring assets is common throughout the divorce proceeding and settlement process, and without an in-depth, accurate investigative analysis, a court will render a decision based on the information presented.


Nothing embitters a divorce battle more than the determination of one spouse’s fiscal responsible to the other. When faced with the possibility of a staggering monthly payment to a an ex-spouse, or ensuring that one receives their equitable share, couples often find their ex-partner has a negative side they’ve never seen before.

Trained investigators comb through the couple’s financial records, often through database searches, but, if necessary, detectives can turn to surveillance investigations and gather evidence regarding obscured physical assets or sources of income. Knowing the accurate income involved with such types of situations is the key to a legitimate divorce settlement, and an investigator’s job is to determine the truth of the matter through legally admissible methods and reporting.

Determining Custody

Although determining the financial support for a young child is often a contentious issue, the award of custodianship tends to pit couples against one another regularly. Prior to the divorce, it’s not unusual for one spouse to accuse the other of behavior that endangered their child. This is often the case when drug or alcohol abuse is involved, or, in truly cantankerous divorce proceedings, the allegation could be a complete fabrication.

These accusations can have far reaching effects. Rather than playing an influential role throughout the divorce proceedings, criminal acts, such as a child abuse or neglect, can lead to criminal charges. Examining whether the allegations have a grounding in reality is one of private investigators most useful functions. Detectives can explore the reality of the situation discreetly, relaying the information to law enforcement when needed, or gather the evidence that shows the allegations are untrue.


Nothing about divorce is simple, and even if you expect your ex-partner to act reasonable throughout the proceedings, using a private detective beforehand allows the court to make decisions based on factual, verified evidence, and when required, can be a strong asset for your case as an expert witness.

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