By Gianna Huesch
Some divorces and family law matters are inevitably acrimonious, and ex-partners can become highly vindictive and uncooperative. In such cases, people sometimes wonder if they should consider using the services of a private investigator to establish the truth in situations where they feel their ex-spouse may be lying to them. But will hiring a private investigator actually help or will it just be another expense?
In Australia, with our no-fault divorce laws, proving adultery has taken place is not necessary, although it still is in places such as the UK. Whether your spouse cheated on you left, right and centre may well be painful and in fact the reason for your divorce, but it is generally not considered relevant in court proceedings.
Having said that, sometimes courts will still consider the conduct of your ex-partner in relation to some aspects of property division. For example, a husband who wilfully wastes marital funds on mistresses may find that a court winds up taking his wasteful spending habits into account after all, and while not exactly ‘punishing’ him, may make an adjustment in favour of the wife to reflect the way marital funds were unfairly wasted.
Further, in cases of financial fraud, for example when parties hide assets, a private investigator or forensic accountant may be able to help locate such hidden assets. And a private investigator may be needed to establish the accuracy of information presented to a court in regard to employment or undeclared income.
Someone’s conduct may also be of interest to a court if it has a bearing on the best interests of any children involved in a family law dispute. Proving conduct that is not in the best interests of the children—such as gambling, violence, alcohol and drug abuse—can be very difficult and a private investigator may be needed to help shed light on such behaviour.
So when determining whether hiring a private investigator is going to be helpful to your case, ask yourself two main questions:
- Is the conduct of the other party likely to have an impact on any child custody proceedings?
- Do you believe assets have been hidden or not fully disclosed in your divorce?
If you believe the answer to either question is yes, please consult with your solicitor as to whether or not it may be wise to hire a private investigator to help in your case. Sometimes, the evidence you require can be obtained in other ways (for example, an Anton Piller court order can force the other party to disclose evidence—see our blog post here for more: https://www.familylawincanberra.com.au/worried-your-ex-may-destroy-evidence-consider-applying-for-an-anton-piller-order/).
If you are going through a family law matter or divorce and are considering using a private investigator, please do not hesitate to contact Cristina Huesch or one of our other experienced solicitors here at Alliance Family Law on (02) 6223 2400 to discuss the best way forward for you. Your first no-obligation consultation is free, so you have nothing to lose.