According to figures from the US Census Bureau, approximately 13.4 million single parents live with 22.1 million children under 21 years of age. Some of these parents are divorcees who won child custody battles against their spouses. However, child custody cases can be nasty and drag for months. As such, if you are facing a child custody battle, you should hire a child custody private investigator to collect evidence that you can use to prove your claims in court. Some of the key considerations when hiring a private investigator to help with a child custody court battle include:
Before proceeding further, it is worth noting that licensing requirements vary from state to state. For instance, private investigations in Florida must comply with the legal guidelines stipulated in Chapter 493 of state statutes as well as Chapter 5N-1 of the Florida Administrative Code. As such, it is wise to hire a private investigator who has acquired licensure from the relevant authorities. However, investigators working in Idaho, Wyoming, South Dakota, and Mississippi need not worry about licensing because these states do not regulate private investigations. Some states have reciprocity agreements/protocols with other states meaning private investigators can work across such states without necessarily acquiring new licenses. Some of the common licensing requirements include law enforcement background (FBI or police), passing exhaustive background checks, and completing a specified number of fieldwork hours. To learn more about local licensing requirements, visit your state’s Department of Consumer Affairs website.
Private investigators operating in states where licensing is mandatory must also have adequate insurance coverage and surety bond if it is mandatory. Once again, these requirements typically vary from one state to the next. With this in mind, request the private investigator you intend to hire to provide you with proof of insurance coverage. If you can, call the insurer to verify the validity of any coverage or surety bond. Insurance companies can also help you determine whether a private investigator has complied with the local coverage requirements.
Choose an experienced private investigator who specializes in child custody cases. Remember private investigations cover a wide range of niches including insurance claims fraud, forensic accounting, marital infidelity, murder, and kidnappings. Since the investigatory processes involved in each of these niches vary, you should hire a professional who has handled child custody cases preferably for several years. In addition, ensure the investigator you intend to hire has been deposed in court because the private investigator may be required to testify in your case.
Besides licensing, choose an investigator who has successfully completed one or multiple educational programs related to private investigations. Luckily, learning institutions such as CUNY, Rutgers University, and John Jay College of Criminal Justice offer programs such as criminology, psychology, and criminal justice, which are essential for one to succeed as a private investigator. This is in addition to certifications offered by professional bodies such as the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE). Such certifications are particularly important because divorced or separated couples may engage in fraudulent activities to ensure they have the upper hand during child custody proceedings.
Clear Fee Structure
Some of the factors that determine the cost of hiring a private investigation include the nature of evidence required, length of investigation period, travelling and accommodation expenses (if any), surveillance strategies deployed, and ease of monitoring the target individual. For example, the cost of a thorough background check can range anywhere from $200 to $400.As such, it is wise to hire an investigator who can give you an accurate breakdown of his/her investigatory services costs. In general, experienced and high profile investigators tend to charge more than their low profile and inexperienced counterparts.
Child custody investigations can be complex and involve legalese that is undecipherable by people without legal/law enforcement background. For this reason, look for a private investigator who can explain all the relevant legal concepts in a way that you can understand. Communication is also necessary during instances when a private investigator has to travel out-of-state or abroad to follow leads. Finally, a private investigator’s feedback could determine the outcome of your child custody case.
When searching for a private investigator, you should evaluate potential candidates based on their experience, professional qualifications, communication skills, insurance coverage, fee structure, and licensing. At the same time, make sure your investigator follows industry best practices and does not break the law to acquire evidence.