Hiring a private investigator may seem like a drastic action, but there are situations that require solid, irrefutable evidence of a spouse's marital misconduct. Private investigators offer a wide variety of services, including background checks, obtaining information about organizations or businesses, and researching suspicious financial transactions. These services can be useful for individuals who suspect their spouses of hiding assets, or engaging in illegal activities such as tax evasion or wire fraud.
Most divorce-related investigations, however, center around adultery -- undoubtedly the most common form of marital misconduct. Private investigators were especially popular prior to the internet age, when it was much easier to keep one's private activities out of the public eye. Nowadays, many individuals catch their spouses through emails, text messages and social media posts. However, obtaining such evidence can be risky since it may involve violating the other party's privacy rights. Furthermore, texts, emails and postings may not be enough to conclusively prove that an individual had sexual relations outside the marriage. Time stamped photos and video footage, on the other hand, are a lot more convincing.
It should be noted that most divorces do not involve such intimate evidence, since they're generally settled through private methods such as mediation and collaborative divorce. Going to court, after all, is expensive and time-consuming, not to mention embarrassing depending on the type of information that needs to be presented. The issue that typically tips the scales in favor of litigation is alimony, i.e., how much, if any, a spouse deserves based on his or her misconduct. In New Jersey, a spouse can not be denied alimony solely on the grounds of adultery. However, excessive or heinous acts of adultery, or adultery that negatively affects the couple's finances may result in a reduced alimony award. This could be well worth fighting for depending on the amount of alimony involved, and the assets that you're seeking to protect.
Private investigators can also be hired for post-divorce actions, such as modification or termination of alimony under grounds of cohabitation. One of the most significant aspects of the Alimony Reform Act of 2014 is the expanded definition of “cohabitation”, which used to be limited to the act of living together in the same household. Individuals who were ordered to pay long-term or permanent alimony were often left frustrated by their exes, who were financially benefitting from a new relationship, but continued to receive alimony because they were not living with their new partner. The reform act allows judges to consider a variety of factors that indicate a state of cohabitation, including shared bank accounts, helping with each other's bills and frequent overnight visits. These factors are still considerably challenging to prove without the sophisticated methods of a private investigator.
Deciding whether to hire a private investigator ultimately depends on the unique circumstances within your marriage. For more information on private investigative services, as well as all your other divorce rights and options, please speak with the attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C.