Do I need a Private Investigator? The Ins and Outs of Hiring a PI in a Divorce Case

Modern illustration demonstrating social media on a smartphoneWith internet searches and social media accounts, almost anyone with a computer can play the part of amateur sleuth. But sometimes you need to bring in an expert to get the information you are looking for. If you think you need the services of a private investigator in your case or before your case begins, talk to an attorney about your options before proceeding on your own. Hiring and paying the PI through your Dallas family lawyer will add a layer of protection for you – imagine what might happen if your soon-to-be-ex sees a charge for a private investigations firm on the credit card bill.

What Can a PI Do for Me?

Some clients want a private investigator to confirm their suspicions about a cheating spouse and gather information to use in a divorce case – who is he calling late at night or where is she sneaking away to? Others want a private investigator to look into whether their spouse has secret bank accounts with hidden money.

Whatever your goal is, professional private investigators have access to databases that are unavailable to the general public. PIs can therefore obtain information that you cannot get from Google. Even if you can get some “dirt” off of the internet yourself, a PI can more easily manage the abundance of information online and steer away from inaccurate data or websites claiming to provide ”insider” information and complete backgrounds which are frequently out of date, incomplete, or wrong.

PIs are also trained in surveillance so as not to tip off the subject they are following while obtaining information. Investigation word cloudPhotos and videos taken by a PI conducting surveillance of one party’s wrongdoing support one’s case much more than he said/she said accusations. Private investigators have the discretion, experience, and training to assess the information gathered and compile an accurate report for you and your Dallas family law attorney to use as necessary in the course of your case.

How Do I Choose a PI?

The attorneys at Goranson Bain have relationships with some of the best private investigators in the business. We recognize the important of hiring a qualified, well-trained private investigator.

Here are some considerations in hiring a PI:

  • Is the investigator licensed?
  • How long has the investigator been in business?
  • Does the private security section of the Department of Public Safety have any complaints against the investigator or the company?
  • Does the investigator have adequate training and experience for the assignment?
  • Does the investigator have experience testifying in court?

What Do I Tell the PI?

Dick Haayen, founder and President of Padic Investigations, has been in the business since 1991. From his perspective, it is important to tell the PI as much as you can about the situation, your suspicions, and what you are looking for. It is of utmost importance to be open with the private investigator, even if it is embarrassing or uncomfortable. Not only will that help the investigator do his or her job better, but it will also cut down costs (and chances are it’s nothing they haven’t heard before!). A good PI will tell you what information is available and give you an estimate of the cost for his or her services. You should expect to pay the PI a retainer for his or her services.

What Can I Expect from the PI?

Confidential EnvelopeThe PI should give you a written report at the conclusion of his or her work on your case. Keep in mind that there is no guarantee that the PI will get the information that you are looking for. You should discuss your goals in hiring the PI with an attorney to determine whether it is the right choice for you.

For questions about hiring a private investigator to assist in your family law case, contact GoransonBain Ausley.

A special thanks to Dick Haayen of Padic Investigations for the input and insight provided to me for this article.

This post was written by Lerrin B. Goldberg.