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When to Hire a Private Investigator

Posted by Joshua Wilson | Mar 06, 2019 | 5 Comments

If you have recently filed for divorce or are contemplating it, you may have wondered if hiring a private investigator will help your case. Speaking to an attorney about the pros and cons of hiring an investigator is best before taking this step, as hiring a private investigator can add unnecessary expenses to your divorce without helping your case. 

Hiring a Private Investigator to Locate Your Spouse

When you file for a divorce, you must serve your spouse with a complaint and summons and provide a court with proof of service. If you need to locate a spouse after separation so that they can be served with paperwork, private investigators have experience and tools to assist you with locating them. If a person has utility bills in their own name, an investigator may be able to find out where they are living using identifying information such as a Social Security number, the person's date of birth, and any aliases that they may have.

Locating an individual in a divorce or custody case can also be important if the other party has moved unexpectedly without a court's permission. An investigator may be able to help you locate a person who has moved to another state. If there has already been a judgment entered in another state, an attorney can be helpful to advise you about how to enforce another state's judgment in the state where the other party has moved.

Investigation of Hidden Assets and Extramarital Affairs

Keep in mind that hiring a private investigator can be costly. Before hiring an investigator, think about what information you hope to add to your case. An attorney may be able to help advise you about alternative solutions before you take this step. For example, if you suspect that your spouse is hiding assets, another type of expert such as a forensic accountant can examine financial documents such as tax records to uncover hidden assets.

Many people consider hiring a private investigator to try to catch a cheating spouse. Considering the overall costs of hiring an investigator, a good question to ask an attorney is whether or not this is likely to help you in court or not. Missouri is a “no-fault” divorce state, which means that judges are not supposed to consider evidence of adultery when making determinations about whether or not to award alimony and other determinations. An exception may arise in extreme cases if one spouse is squandering the couple's assets on expensive vacations and gifts during an affair.

On the other hand, a private investigator can be useful in some situations when your case involves a dispute regarding child custody. If you suspect that your spouse is abusing drugs or alcohol in the presence of the children, an investigator can help you uncover proof that this is going on, which can be very persuasive in court. Private investigators are generally more familiar with how to collect this information than private citizens without violating privacy laws, which can help you or a friend avoid breaking privacy laws unintentionally. 

Who Hires a Private Investigator?

Another common question many people have about hiring a private investigator is who hires the investigator. Hiring an investigator before consulting with an attorney can be a mistake. If an individual hires an investigator, any information found by the investigator may be disclosed during pre-trial discovery. However, if an attorney hires the investigator, the attorney may be able to argue that the information is confidential because it is protected attorney “work product.”

For more information about when to hire a private investigator in a divorce case, contact the Joshua Wilson Law firm online or call (816) 331-9968.

About the Author

Joshua Wilson

Divorce is complex and highly emotional. Everything is going to change, including your most important personal relationships, your finances, your daily routine, and -- of course -- your home life. This can be a stressful time, and the parties involved often are not thinking clearly. You need some...


Michaela Hemsley Reply

Posted May 24, 2022 at 12:46:54

Thanks for detailing when to hire a private investigator. It makes sense that you could hire one to help you find your spouse if you wanted to file for divorce. My sister is going through something similar right now, so I’ll have to tell her to look into hiring a private investigator to help.

Eve Mitchell Reply

Posted Jun 14, 2022 at 10:24:53

It’s good to know that you need to think about what information a private investigator will add to your case. I’m trying to see if my boss is laundering money from our business, and I’d like to hire someone to help. I think that a private investigator will be able to uncover something.

Charlotte Fleet Reply

Posted Jul 14, 2022 at 15:40:26

Thanks for mentioning how hiring a private investigator can be useful for child custody disputes. My older sister is getting divorced and is hoping to gain full custody of her kids. I’ll suggest that she look into hiring a private investigator to increase her chances of success.

Young’s Services Reply

Posted Jul 30, 2022 at 04:20:41

I appreciate everything that you mentioned Thanks for sharing

Eli Bradley Reply

Posted Sep 21, 2022 at 19:27:39

It’s interesting that you mention that a private investigator can help locate assets your spouse may be hiding if you are getting divorced. I suspect that my wife may be hiding money from me in preparation to get divorced, so I’m considering hiring a private investigator next week. I’m going to see if there’s a reputable private investigator in the area that I can hire.

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