Friday, October 16, 2009



By Ralph D. Thomas

In the 1950's and 1960's, divorce investigation was the major mainstay of most private investigative agencies in the United States. Although the focus of these investigations has changed, they still account for a major division of private investigative assignments today and many private investigative agencies specialize in them. Many modern day private investigators have developed other areas of private investigative practice and turn down domestic investigative assignments. However, there are many agencies who tend to specialize in this area, have become quite succesful at it and it's worth considering for several reasons.

Understanding The Demand For Divorce Investigations
Although the percentage of divorce investigation conducted for every divorce filed in the United States has gone down based on the newer no-fault divorce laws, the number of divorces has swelled for the same reason. No-fault divorce laws, now on the books in almost every state in the United States; simply means that grounds for a divorce are no longer needed. Before no-fault divorce laws, private investigators had been used to develop evidence for grounds for the divorce. This is how the actual focus of the investigation has changed. Although the same type of evidence is often collected, the way in which the evidence is used has voided the need for "grounds evidence" but that type of evidence is often still in demand. As the number of investigations per every divorce filed in the United States has gone down, the number of divorced filed has swelled to almost alarming rates. It has been estimated that in today's world, four out of every five marriages in the United States end in divorce.

Although in many instances the private investigation is simply providing the client with information to know for peace of mind, the evidence collection can often and is often used in a court of law. As stated, grounds for a divorce are no longer needed; the evidence can be used in other issues such as child custody and division of assets. Many private investigators look upon divorce investigation as simply another form of physical surveillance as most clients will make an appointment with an investigator based on the adultery issue. However, there are often other issued involved that relate to the investigation. Major issues directly effecting a divorce can include:

Spouse Abuse
Child Negligence
Alcohol Abuse
Drug Abuse

Spouse physcial abuse needs to, of course, be documented. Photographs of the injury needs to be obtained. If the client does not or has not retained an attorney in a physical abuse situtation, they should be advised to contact the distrct attorney's office and police department for obvious reasons. Evidence of verbal abuse can easily be obtained under
one party consent states with a hidden tape recorder. Adultery can usually be documented with a physical surveillance of the subject. Child Negligence, abandonment and child abuse also need to be documented by investigation and instruction to the client. Alcohol abuse and drug abuse can usually be documented through physical surveillance and trash monitoring. Bigamy can be documented by checking marriage records. The client can usually be prompted through skillful questioning to see which issues apply. Divorce investigations today can involve surveillance and activities checks, child custody and child abuse issues, physical abuse and verbal abuse as well as hidden assets location. These are all important issues that need to be determined. The point I am trying to make is that most circumstances call for profesional services above and beyond conducting a physical surveillance. There are many things that the client can do for themselves and the modern day investigator can work with the subject's attorney to help document needed evidence regarding these issues.

Other References From The Divorce Soure Site
Harrassment And Domestic Abuse
What You Need To Know About Divorce Law
Seven Myths Of Divorce
The Process Of Divorce

Other Areas Of Domestic Investigation
Aside from divorce investigations, there has emerged other major trends in private investigative assignments centering around domestic types of assignments. One of the newer areas of domestic investigation that has been booming in the last ten years is the need and demand for background checks in the areas of pre-relationship and pre-martial investigations. The demand has been high in this area. Also emerging and continuing to go up is the number of investigations and background checks dealing with domestic help. Since both the father and mother are now in the work force, children are left in the care of third parities. What has emerged is investigations centering around the third parties who are in charge of the care of the children. Aside from background checks of these third parties, there is a demand for the rental of covert video camera equipment. In every major city in the United States, you'll find many successful private investigative agencies that specialize in these types of cases.

Focus On Children
Children are one of America's most important asset as it's America's future. Children in America today are of special concern as modern circumstances hand them problems that once were not there. The number of divorces is extremely alarming--only one in five marriages are a success. Mothers have entered the work force leaving child care to third parties. A number of booming investigative specializations are emerging as long range trends. Background checks of third party caretakers are an enormous market. Many investigative agencies are reporting brisk business for the rental of hidden video cameras to check out nannies and baby setters. Child abuse investigation is up--way up. The trend towards a special focus in children in the private investigative profession then, is centered in the following areas:


Conducting The Divorce Assignment
The number one investigative skill to develop in divorce investigations is the art and skill of surveillance. The surveillance will establish activity of adultry on the part of the other spouse. However, legal aspects of the surveillance need to be strictly observed. The client will liekly has an idea of when the activity is taking place. The purpose of these types of assignments is usually to establish evidence of adulty and cheating. It is important both from a legal and ethcal standpoint that the investigator not engage in entrapment. Here are some articles useful to both the professional investigator and the client:


Aside from that, it's important for you to understand that you are dealing with a client who is going to be highly emotional about these issues. They are often upset and fearful. If your client has interest access, I strong suggestion would be for them to use the web site:

This site contains extensive information, the equivalent of a 700-page book, about divorce. Organized so you can quickly and easily find the straightforward, practical information you need.
Another major information center on the subject. You'll find a state-by-state information resource at this site.
Trash monitoring can also be used to develop other evidence such as drug and alcohol abuse. Background investigations are sometimes called for to establish other activities of the subject in a divorce issue.

Tape Recording Issues
It is often requested from a client that an
automatic telephone tape recorder be used to catch the other spouse talking on the telephone to a covert girlfriend of boyfriend. However, no party consent is illegal is almost every state. The client should be advised of this. In states that allow one party consent (one party to the conversation needs to provide consent) it is sometimes useful to record the client's own coversations with their consent. Click here to review the state-by-state one/two party tape recording consent laws.

Conducting The Background Check
On other types of domestic investigations such as pre-date or pre-martial investigations, the client wants to know about the subject. This usually involves a criminal records check and other background checks. For information on conducting criminal records checks,
click here. There are several very comperhensive books and manuals on the market today that show you how to conduct various forms of background investigations. To review them, click here.

Related Books
Checkmate: The Domestic Investigation Training Manual By Jody Ball
Child Abuse Investigations: By Jody Ball
When In Doubt, Check Him Out By Joseph Culligan
The Art Of Surveillance (Book And Video Training) By Kelly Riddle
Pre-Martial Investigations By Ralph Thomas