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Use of Private Investigators

Winning a divorce or child custody case is largely about obtaining facts and presenting those facts in a believable manner to the judge. I often tell our clients it’s like building a jig-saw puzzle. We have a picture we want to put together for the judge to see, but it takes multiple pieces, all put together correctly, for the judge to see our exact picture. The use of a Private Investigator can help uncover those pieces and help give credibility to the facts they find.

PI’s Help Uncover Facts

A fact in a case is something that can be shown in a tangible manner to a judge. Facts can include:

  • Credible witnesses
  • Videos
  • Documents

Not only do facts need to be gathered, they must also be admissible into court. If they were obtained inappropriately, the other party can object to their use, wasting your time and money spent gathering those facts. A good PI will not only be able to help uncover facts, but they will do so in a manner that is admissible and credible to the court.

PI’s Used as a Witness

One of the most powerful uses of a Private Investigator we have found is as a witness. There are times our client and the opposing party have directly conflicting stories. A Private Investigator can testify, with or without supporting videos and documentation, as to what they have seen. Having someone not connected to the case personally testify lends credibility to your story.

Using a Private Investigator to back up what a child says is another powerful way to utilize a PI. We have had many sad cases were a young child, someone too young to testify in court, has stated a concern to a parent, yet how do you make that concern known to a judge in a credible fashion? A good PI will help uncover the facts around what a child says and present them to a judge, through testimony, videos or documentation, so that the judge fully understands the concerns.

Hiring a PI

However, just because using a PI for a divorce or child custody case is important, we don’t want you to just run out and hire any old PI. The Shaw Law Firm has used excellent PI’s in the past and can help you not only find the right PI for your case, but help guide the PI to conduct a more focused search for facts that are best suited to support your case. You don’t want to waste your time and money paying for open-ended stake-outs that may or may not lead to strong evidence.

A good PI will:

  • make sure the party under surveillance is not aware of the investigation
  • plans ahead to maximize their available time to gather the most relevant information
  • ensures that the evidence gathered is done so in a legal manner that can be admissible in court

Please consult the Shaw Law Firm before hiring a private investigator if your intent is to obtain useful and relevant evidence to further your case.

The Value of a PI

Like attorneys, every PI sets their own rates, including an initial retainer and hourly rate. In many cases, the cost incurred for the PI is well worth it by the time-savings they generate in your overall case. For example, instead of a husband and wife spending hours of time in court each saying their own version of their stories, a PI can, with one good video, let the court know exactly who’s version of the story to believe, thus reducing overall court time. Some of our cases have been won so convincingly by PI evidence that the other party agrees to settle the case out of court, saving even more. While there are no guarantees that any PI hired will come up with such strong evidence, the Shaw Law Firm has seen many examples of the use of a PI reducing the overall effort and thus expense of a case.

Example #1 – PI Caught Cheating Wife – Directly Impacted Child Custody

One of our more heart-breaking stories came from a father who suspected his stay-at-home wife was cheating on him. The reason he suspected it – his own four year old daughter told him. When confronted, the wife denied all allegations and enlisted the support of her family and friends to back her up in court. Through the PI’s effort, the Shaw Law Firm learned of an upcoming rendezvous at a hotel, but when the PI followed the mother and boyfriend to the hotel, she discovered the daughter was brought with and exposed to this affair. The PI thought fast and called the police, who found the mother and boyfriend passed out drunk on a hotel bed with the daughter forced to sit in a chair nearby. Our client, the father, won full custody and this mother has since lost all rights to see her daughter unsupervised.

Example #2 – PI Caught Drunk Driving Mother

In another case, our client, a father, suspected his wife was an alcoholic and exposing their daughter to this behavior. The testimony was mixed, leading to no real solid evidence of alcoholic behavior. So we hired a good PI to follow the wife. The PI actually went into a bar following the wife and even had a conversation with her. Seeing first-hand she was drinking and drunk, the PI called the police to stop her from driving. The police arrested her for DUI and also found a “water bottle” in the car filled with vodka. This same “water bottle” had been seen multiple times on the PI tapes showing her drinking from this bottle prior to driving with her daughter. This PI’s clever surveillance techniques not only made this a clear case for the Shaw Law Firm to win, but also helped protect a young child.

Example #3 – PI Protects Child

Many fathers, including our Marine Sergeant client, feel they will automatically loose a custody case against a stay-at-home mother. But when the facts show that mother not fit for her role, the facts will win. In this case, the PI had been able to show his estranged wife was having an affair with a known criminal, but she swore to the judge under oath to not allow the child anywhere near this boyfriend during her upcoming Christmas visitation. Our client didn’t believe her, so to help protect his son, the Shaw Law Firm recommended he hire the PI again to monitor her during the break. As it turned out, the PI was able to show this mother dangerously exposed her son to a known criminal, breaking her word to the court. The Shaw Law Firm immediately took action and got this son removed from the mother.

Contact us or call today to learn how Shaw Law can work with you to achieve the best outcome possible for you and your children.

Scott Shaw is founder and principle of Shaw Law Firm LLC, founded in 1995 and dedicated solely to divorce, family law and child custody matters that must be addressed and decided in the state of Georgia. Shaw Law Firm serves the greater Metro Atlanta area, particularly the counties of Fulton, Gwinnett, Cobb, Cherokee, Forsyth, Paulding, Henry, Fayette, Coweta, Newton, Walton, Bartow and Douglas. Schedule a consultation today at 770-594-8309.