Unfortunately, divorce can bring out the worst in people. Your spouse may waste marital assets, lie about having an affair, or try to conceal funds in order to deprive you of your legally entitled property.
In many divorce cases, it’s well worth the expense of hiring a private investigator to uncover your spouse’s misconduct. Read this article to learn more about how a private investigator can help your Texas divorce case.
A Private Investigator Can Help Show Fault in Your Divorce
Texas is what’s called a no-fault divorce state. This means you do not have to prove that your spouse did anything wrong in order to obtain a divorce. However, you can still allege fault in your divorce proceedings.
Fault can affect issues such as community property division and spousal support.
For example, if you can prove your spouse has committed adultery, the court may be inclined to award you a greater share of the marital estate. This is where hiring a private investigator can be beneficial.
In order for the court to grant you a divorce on the grounds of adultery, you’ll need to present either direct or circumstantial evidence of your spouse’s infidelity.
Courts will only accept “clear and positive proof” of adultery. In re S.A.A., 279 S.W.3d 853, 855 (Tex. App. 2009) There is no legal standard for what constitutes “clear and positive proof,” but Texas courts have held that “mere suggestion and innuendo is insufficient to prove adultery.” In re Hashimi, No. 14-17-00488-CV, 2018 Tex. App. LEXIS 7071, at *1 (Tex. App. Aug. 30, 2018)
Let’s see how a private investigator helped one Collin County woman prove her husband was cheating.
A Texas Cheating Case
The wife hired a private investigator after she began to suspect her husband was being unfaithful. The investigator filmed the husband kissing and hugging another woman at an airport.
The wife filed for divorce on grounds of adultery and presented the private investigator’s findings during divorce proceedings.
Finding this evidence sufficient, a Collin County trial court found that the husband was at fault for the divorce because he had committed adultery. The wife received 81 percent of the marital assets.
The husband appealed, but the Fifth Court of Appeals found that:
“the evidence is both legally and factually sufficient to support the trial court’s finding that [Husband] committed adultery.” In re Marriage of C.A.S., 405 S.W.3d 373, 383-84 (Tex. App. 2013)
Finding Hidden Assets
In Texas, you are entitled to a just and equitable division of marital property. Unfortunately, spouses sometimes conceal assets in order to get a more favorable divorce settlement.
Hidden assets can include stocks, unreported income, bonds, or cash. Maybe your spouse tied up these assets in their business or formed a hidden corporation to conceal this property from you.
A private investigator can analyze your spouse’s financial statements, tax returns, banking records, credit cards, etc. The investigator also will have access to a number of databases that help them track down assets. They may look through public records pertaining to property filings, tax returns, or other documents.
A private investigator is able to track your spouse’s financial habits and root out any discrepancies between earnings, spendings, and identified assets. If an investigator uncovers hidden assets, other experts will be able to determine whether they are community or separate property and value them.
What is a Private Investigator Allowed to Do?
Private investigators have a variety of investigative methods at their disposal. Here are some ways they can obtain useful information for your Texas divorce proceedings:
Background checks. A private investigator can access public records that help piece together your case. For example, let’s say you’ve seen an unfamiliar vehicle at your spouse’s office after-hours. A private investigator can run the license plate and possibly locate the vehicle’s owner.
Interviews. A private investigator is allowed to contact anyone your spouse may be in contact with in order to collect information. This includes family members, friends, co-workers, and neighbors.
Surveillance. An investigator can follow your spouse and take photos or videos of the places they visit and the people they interact with.
Search trash. Anything a person throws away is generally considered abandoned property. Therefore, a private investigator can search your spouse’s trash as long as it is located in a public area, such as the curb in front of your spouse’s home or business.
What is a Private Investigator Not Allowed to Do?
A private investigator cannot wiretap your spouse’s phone or search their mail. Both of these are federal offenses.
A private investigator also cannot trespass on private property. If a property or business owner tells them to leave the premises, they must do so.
Essentially, private investigators can conduct surveillance, but they must do so within the bounds of the law.
Find Out if a Private Investigator Can Help You
The R&H Texas Family Law Team wants to make sure you get your fair share of the marital estate. We can help you determine whether hiring a private investigator will benefit your divorce case. Call 214-884-3775 today to begin your free case assessment.