Investigation And Divorce

by Tony Olivo, LPI for

There are many things that the client can do for themselves or with the help of today’s investigator.

In the 1950’s and 1960’s, divorce investigation was the major mainstay of most private investigative agencies in the United States. Although the focus of these investigations has changed, they still account for a major division of private investigative assignments today and many private investigative agencies specialize in them.


Understanding The Demand For Divorce Investigations
Although the percentage of divorce investigation conducted for every divorce filed in the United States has gone down based on no-fault divorce laws, the number of divorces has swelled for the same reason. No-fault divorce laws, now on the books in almost every state in the United States; simply means that grounds for a divorce are no longer needed.

Before no-fault divorce laws, private investigators had been used to develop evidence for grounds for the divorce. This is how the actual focus of the investigation related to divorce has changed. Although the same type of evidence is often collected, the way in which the evidence is used has changed the need for "grounds evidence" but that type of evidence is often still in demand for other purposes.

As the number of investigations per every divorce filed in the United States has gone down, the number of divorces filed has swelled to almost alarming rates. It has been estimated that in today’s world, four out of every five marriages in the United States end in divorce. This phenomenon has brought investigations back into the arena, but for different purposes.

Although in many instances the private investigation is simply providing the client with information for "peace of mind," the evidence collection can be and is still often used in a court of law. As stated, grounds for a divorce are no longer needed; but the evidence can be useful for other related issues such as child custody and division of assets.

Today, while most potential clients will make an appointment with an investigator based on the adultery issue, there are growing types of investigation for more specific reasons. Major issues directly affecting a divorce that many people do not initially consider can include:

Spousal Abuse
Child Negligence
Alcohol Abuse
Drug Abuse

Spousal physical abuse, of course, needs be documented. Photographs of the injury need to be obtained. If the client does not or has not retained an attorney in a physical abuse situation, they should contact the district attorney’s office and police department immediately for obvious reasons. Evidence of verbal abuse, though not as obvious, can easily be obtained under one party consent states with a hidden tape recorder.

Adultery is still usually documented with a physical surveillance of the subject.

Child Negligence, abandonment and child abuse must also be documented by investigation and instruction to the client as to how to obtain evidence.

Alcohol abuse and drug abuse can usually be documented through physical surveillance and trash monitoring.

Bigamy can be documented by checking marriage records. The client can usually be prompted through skillful questioning to see which issues apply.

Trash Monitoring can also be used to develop other evidence such as drug and alcohol abuse. Background investigations are sometimes called for to establish other activities of the subject in a divorce issue.

Divorce investigations today can involve surveillance and activities checks which can be admissible in child custody and child abuse, physical abuse and verbal abuse cases as well as those involving hidden assets location. These are all important issues that could affect your case and should be considered as the need to investigate them is determined.

We see that circumstances call for professional services above and beyond conducting  physical surveillance. And there are many things that the client can do for themselves or with the help of today’s investigator. Your investigator can and should work with your attorney to help document needed evidence regarding these issues.

Other Areas Of Domestic Investigation Gaining Popularity

Aside from divorce investigations, there have emerged other major trends in private investigative assignments still centering around the domestic arena. One of the newer areas of domestic investigation that has boomed in the last ten years is the need and demand for background checks in the areas of pre-relationship and pre-martial investigation.

Focus On Children

Also emerging are the number of investigations and background checks dealing with domestic help. With the father and mother now in the work force, children are left in the care of third parties. What has emerged is investigations centering around the third parties who are in charge of the care of the children. Aside from background checks of these third parties, there is also increasing demand for the rental of covert video camera equipment. In every major city in the United States, you’ll find many successful private investigative agencies that specialize in these types of cases.

A number of booming investigative specializations are emerging as long range trends of entrusting children to otherwise unknown third parties increases. Background checks of third party caretakers is becoming an enormous market.

Surveillance Issues

Clients often initially request that an automatic telephone tape recorder be used to catch the other spouse talking on the telephone to a girlfriend of boyfriend. However, caution must be exercised. No party consent is illegal in almost every state. In states that allow one party consent (one party to the conversation needs to provide consent) it is sometimes useful to record the client’s own conversations with their consent. The client needs to review the specific state consent laws.

By working with your attorney and a licensed private investigator the client can avoid the pitfalls of crossing legal lines that could ultimately hurt his case while securing the strong evidence that will strengthen his case or at least give him the peace of mind that what matters most to him is secure.


Tony Olivo is President and Chief of Investigations, Centurion Special Investigations LLC. 716-583-4628. email CSI is a professional investigative firm comprised of former Law Enforcement professionals. 

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