Should I Hire a Private Investigator in my Virginia Divorce?

Posted on Mar 24, 2014 by Katie Carter

Sometimes, in family law cases, we have to use a private investigator to get the information we need to prove something involved in the case. In many of these cases, we’re trying to prove adultery. In other cases, sometimes we need evidence that relates to child custody, like what one parent is doing during the time that the children are in his custody. We can get lots of valuable information this way, and sometimes it’s really the only way to prove what we need to prove to win our cases. But, as you can probably imagine, hiring a private investigator is pretty pricy.

Just think of the man hours, not to mention the fancy gadgets, needed to catch your husband, for example, having an affair. As you can probably imagine, the costs involved add up quickly, and, sometimes, the results of a private investigation are inconclusive or nonexistent.

So, should you hire a private investigator in your case? That all depends, and it depends on a lot of things.

Really, before you even consider hiring an attorney, you should talk to an attorney, one-on-one, to make a decision about what is right for you in your unique circumstances. What are your goals in your divorce? Where do you want to end up? Do you and your soon-to-be ex have children in common? How much harm could you inflict on your family by doing this? On the other hand, could you protect your family from some kind of pain by doing this? What could you gain by hiring a PI? What could you lose? Is the cost of hiring a private investigator going to outweigh the possible benefits?

It’s difficult to contemplate these issues without the help of an attorney. You’ll want to talk to her about your goals and your case strategy, and then make a decision about whether (or not) a private investigator could help you.

In a lot of cases, we have to advise our clients NOT to hire a private investigator, because the ends don’t justify the means. Although the judge can take a person’s fault into account when dividing the property (and give the spouse who was not at fault a greater share), in most cases the result is still somewhere close to 50/50. Of course, that doesn’t mean that’s what it would be like in your case, but it’s still probably wise to talk to someone who is experienced in dealing with cases like yours.

You should definitely talk to an attorney BEFORE you hire a private investigator. After all, no matter what happens, you’ll need an attorney. You may not end up needing the private investigator, but if you hire him first and talk to an attorney second, you may find out too late that you spent a lot of money on something that really won’t change the ultimate resolution of your case.