Portrait of John K Grubb

Texas Divorce and Prenuptial Agreement

4550 Post Oak Place, Suite 201 • Houston, Texas 77027-3139

Phone: 713-877-8800 • Fax: 713-877-1229

Can a private investigator help my divorce case?

 

Can a private investigator help my divorce?

Many people just can’t shake the 1940s image of a private eye. A smoky, dimly lit office. A shadowy man with his feet on the desk puffing a stogie just waiting to rescue a damsel in distress or help the knight out of a sticky situation.

The answer to the question if you should hire a private investigator (PI) is it all depends. Texas is a no fault divorce state. Unlike the movies, the question of spousal fidelity rarely enters the picture. The “he/she cheated and I have proof” allegation does not usually sway Houston’s Family Courts one way or another.

Hiring a PI can help or hurt your case, or just be wasted money and time. That’s not say that using an investigator is not warranted in every circumstance.

 

Private investigators can help divorce cases, but only in limited situations.

 

  • Private detectives can be extremely helpful if you suspect your spouse of hiding assets. Investigators know the databases and records and have access to them that normal people don’t. If your spouse has assets solely in his or her name, a PI is very likely to uncover them.
  • If you believe your ex is abusing or neglecting your children while he or she has visitation or custody, a private investigator will conduct surveillance and report back to you, giving you evidence that can be used in court if your suspicions are true.
  • If you have reason to speculate that your spouse is involved in illegal activity, a PI will be helpful in proving (or disproving) it.

 

Before deciding to hire a private investigator, be sure that there is benefit to the cost. Private eyes are well-known to be expensive. Like attorneys, most charge a retainer and invoice you for billable hours plus extras.

If you decide that an investigator is right in your situation, there are some steps to take. Prior to hiring an investigator, you should

  • Make sure the PI is licensed, and ask to see a copy of his/her license. The State of Texas requires all investigators to be licensed through the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS).
  • Ask for proof of bonding and liability insurance. You could be liable for damages to other people’s properties if the PI doesn’t have adequate insurance.
  • Check references.
  • Get a contract. A contract will explicitly state the services to be performed and the fees charged. It will also include the hourly rate and any additional charges.

PIs can be very useful in strengthening your divorce case in circumstances such as hidden assets or child welfare is an issue. You should speak with your attorney if you feel that one may be necessary. Your divorce attorney can point can probably recommend a qualified private investigator in Houston.

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