A child custody investigation examines the child's well-being and treatment in an objective manner. A private investigator may assess the treatment of a child by the parents in question and present this information to the court with a report.
During a child custody investigation, the investigator may conduct surveillance to get a better idea of how the parent treats his or her child when he or she does not know about any monitoring going on. Private investigators may document any instances of abuse or neglect by taking pictures or making audio or visual recordings of the parent interacting with the child. Some of the elements that a private investigator may try to include in his or her surveillance include reckless driving, criminal activity, gambling, drug abuse or other activities that may have a negative impact on the children. Additionally, the investigator may look for any signs that the parent is not providing a safe and hygienic living space, food or necessities.
A private investigator often plays many different roles in a child custody investigation, including the following:
A private investigator may interview witnesses who may be involved in the child's life, including neighbors, teachers, counselors, parents of friends and other individuals.
Another important role that a private investigator has is to find assets that may be hidden. If the private investigator can find evidence of this nature, the client can argue that the other parent is attempting to shirk his or her financial obligations to the child.
Before a private investigator begins work on the project, he or she generally meets with the client to determine what type of information may be relevant to the case. For example, a parent may know that the other parent hires a babysitter during his or her scheduled time with the child. The person may want evidence that the other party has a romantic partner living with him or her and present during times with the children. Additionally, a private investigator may gather evidence of the parent's drug or alcohol use when he or she is responsible for the children. In some situations, a private investigator may be able to show that the parent is neglecting or abusing the children.
In other situations, the parent may be concerned about what the other parent is doing during scheduled visits. He or she may be allowing the children to be up late at night and the child's grades may suffer as a consequence.
A private investigator may take high quality pictures or video of the other parent. These pictures and videos are often taken in public places to avoid any privacy violation claims. Such locations may be in the front yard, park, grocery store or other locations where there is no expectation of privacy.
A private investigator may also check the criminal and personal background of the other parent and people that he or she has involved in the child's life.
There are several considerations to factor in when thinking about hiring a private investigator. A primary reason why people hire a private investigator is because they are concerned about the child's safety. If a parent is concerned that the other parent is unfit but may have difficulty showing this to the court, a private investigator can help. He or she knows the legal requirements regarding evidence and can provide testimony and other objective evidence in court. In other instances, it is revealed that the other parent is not unfit and the hiring parent can get peace of mind.
In other situations, a parent may be falsely accused of abuse or neglect and a private investigator will be able to show the falsity of such allegations.
A surveillance investigator gathers information about a person, or subject, at the center of an investigation. Surveillance investigators may work as a company employee or contractor and often use concealed cameras, and other surveillance tools to complete investigations. Common responsibilities in this role include conducting video surveillance, performing background checks, researching fraudulent activity, drafting reports about findings, and uploading evidence into a data management database.