The answer to the question, “Do I need to hire a private legal investigator,” is often, “It depends.” From serving another avoiding service of the petition and citation, to discovering hidden assets and property, there are many times a private legal investigator can be an asset in a divorce or family law case.
Much to the chagrin of many getting a divorce, spouses and other parties to the case do not always tell the truth and share all their relevant facts and information, even when ordered to do so by the Court. There are several circumstances in a divorce and family law case when your attorney might recommend engaging the services of a private legal investigator. From serving another avoiding service of the petition and citation, to discovering hidden assets and property, there are many times a private legal investigator can be an asset in a divorce or family law case. However, it is important to keep an ethical and efficient outlook on divorce matters such as retaining investigators, because once the horses leave the stable, you all may be off to the races and not be able to stop or turn around that easily. Your experienced family law attorney can help you evaluate your case and whether a private legal investigator makes sense and is worth engaging to help prevail in your case.
Service of legal process
When you file a divorce petition as well as some other actions involving parents and children, your current or former spouse is entitled to due process of law by way of being legally served with divorce papers. In most cases the local county constable will make initial attempts at serving the other party with the divorce petition and citation which gives formal notice of the action.
There are times that the constable is unable to locate and serve an individual, especially when that person knows about the action and tries to avoid service of process. In this instance, the attorney will often use a private process server, and most process servers also work as legal investigators. Many process servers are trained on stakeouts and investigations to locate and serve an individual
Process servers and investigators are especially useful when the other party may be located or known to be hiding out across state lines or beyond the general reach of the local county constable. Once the process server files their statement of service, your case may proceed as scheduled.
The activities of another
The conduct of your spouse can be relevant when pleading and seeking to prove adultery. Know first that Texas, like the majority, is a no-fault divorce state and cheating does not need to be proven but for when the case is plead as such, which can happen for a variety of reasons. But when adultery is at issue, a private legal investigator may have many ways to get the evidence needed to prove the allegations.
Custody cases, either in the original divorce or during an action to change custody later, may involve the use of a private legal investigator to obtain the necessary evidence of the actions of a parent or another individual involved in the action. The camera in the teddy bear is not the only trick in the book to catch someone up to wrongdoing.
Set aside the issues of adultery and parenting, some people going through a divorce are seeking to prove the existence of assets and property that their spouse is desperately trying to hide from discovery and division in the divorce. When one spouse is a shareholder in a closely held private company, there can be many ways to attempt to hide things that a good private legal investigator can discover.
When your spouse has an investigator, do you need one?
What happens if you are the one who filed for divorce and you learn that your soon to be ex-spouse has bugged your car, your computer and your phone? Especially in high-net worth divorce cases people may be more likely to embarrass and discredit their spouse for financial gain, and for public shaming.
While the urge to bury someone who hurt you may be great, the face you may save in being prudent in a complex divorce may be worth much more. Some say how you and your spouse conduct yourselves in the divorce will set the stage for you how treat one another and others involved for years to come.
The answer to the question, “Do I need to hire a private legal investigator,” is often, “It depends.”
The National Association of Legal Investors
When experienced divorce and family law attorneys need a quality legal investigator, many use investigators certified by the National Association of Legal Investigators (NALI), a national network of certified investigators who work with clients and their attorneys to help prevail in complex and difficult cases.
*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
**Super Lawyers (a Thomson Reuters service, awarded to Mark Scroggins 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021)
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