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Custody and Divorce Success and Discovery: Using Private Investigators


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By Andrew J Thompson

Best Interests of the Children – these words are cited in nearly every state statute relating to custody.  Most states have factors they incorporate, a bit like a report card, to ultimately determine what they believe demonstrates the children’s best interests.

Sadly, the outcome of this analysis is often more predictable in advance, than it is instructive regarding a child’s living environment.  In part, this is due to the fact that not much helpful evidence is typically obtained in a custody case – and the same is often true in divorces that do not involve custody issues.

When a court has little to go except for a general perception of the parties, you can bet it will regularly default back to theoretically tried and true formulas that it uses to decide custody and parenting time outcomes in most cases.

The typical litigant who wants to change that outcome,is likely to rely heavily on their own testimony, or that of family and friends, but that does little to sway any court’s opinion, no matter how forcefully the testimony is presented.

Third party experts’ testimony, instead, is often given great weight in the courtroom, for better or worse.  Whether these experts are therapists, whose opinions should not be treated as “expert” regardless, or independent evaluators, whose opinions are normally given tremendous weight, the magistrate or judge who hears the facts of the case is likely to reach an outcome that is directed by the opinions of the expert unless one or both parties can give the judge reasons to change his or her opinion of the facts.  And this means coming up with some evidence that cannot be ignored by the court.

A private investigator is almost a necessity if you are going to demonstrate anything that will outweigh the opinion of an appointed evaluator. An investigator is a third party who is reasonably independent and is beholden to facts and evidence first, and his clients’ wishes second.  

The kind of facts you need to uncover are facts that are hard to get to.  So you made to have ongoing investigation to confirm the evidence you need.  Often, the investigator’s best inroads are through other third parties who witness what is going on with your children regularly: neighborhoods, parents of classmates, classmates themselves, teachers, coaches, bus drivers, etc.  You need someone, and usually more than one person, that you may or do not know, who can and will collaborate what you know to be true.

The right and best way to retain an investigator is through your attorney.  This will make the investigation more directed, efficient and cost effective, and it may help you preserve attorney-client privilege regarding evidence the investigator uncovers and you need to protect.

If you’re facing a difficult custody or divorce matter, and need to find a way to change a likely outcome in your case, contact the Thompson Law Office today at (317) 564-4976, for a free, initial consultation – or email the author at ajt@thompsonlaw-in.com.


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