Family Law litigation is frequently very contentious. All too often the litigation becomes a "take no prisoners" battle because of the emotional involvement of the parties, even when the parties involved have the best interests of their children in mind. This is especially true if one of the underlying causes of the break-up of the relationship is infidelity.
Using the services of an investigator can be one of the best decisions a petitioner or respondent can make to help his or her family court case. As private investigators, we use modern technology and work in the background, in concert with legal counsel. We can provide knowledge about a spouse's real activities and knowledge is power that will often provide enormous leverage and advantage in the ensuing litigation.
Evidence of misconduct can be obtained via surveillance in divorce and child custody cases. This surveillance can be done by personal surveillance augmented by modern technology such as GPS tracking when legal and appropriate, and can be used to find evidence of activities such as: child neglect or endangerment (ie., driving a car with the children in it while the spouse is under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol) and, of course, infidelity. Surveillance can also be helpful in spotting financial misconduct (hiding assets).
If you suspect that your spouse may have hidden community assets, it's best to start investigating your household and business finances before initiating divorce proceedings. Keep copies of important documents (such as tax returns, bank account statements, and pay stubs) outside the home if you're still living with your spouse or partner. Consider having Parrent Smith conduct an examination of computers in the home that may contain valuable information that may be encrypted or hidden in ways that you may not realize. Our experienced computer experts can make a clean copy of the hard drive of the computer or PDA and examine it outside the home.
Common ways in which a spouse may undervalue or disguise marital assets include:
- On-line bank or stock accounts that you do not know about.
- Income that is unreported on tax returns and financial statements.
- Cash kept in the form of travelers' checks. You may be able to find these by tracing bank account deposits and withdrawals.
- Paid down whole life insurance policies.
- A custodial account set up in the name of a child, using the child's Social Security number.
- Investment in certificate "bearer" municipal bonds or Series EE Savings Bonds. These do not appear on account statements because they are not registered with the IRS. (The government is phasing out these bonds, realizing that it is losing a lot of money.)
- Collusion with an employer to delay bonuses, stock options, or raises until a time when the asset or income would be considered separate property.
Debt repayment to a friend for a phony debt.
- "Sweetheart" lawsuits for non-existent claims.
- Retirement accounts that your spouse never tells you about.
In addition, business owners may try to hide assets in these ways:
- Skimming cash from the business.
- Starting a new business venture with money diverted from the primary business you know about.
- Salary payments to a nonexistent employee, with checks that will be voided after the divorce.
- Money paid from the business to friends or relatives for services that are never performed and the money is simply given back to the spouse.
Remember that once litigation starts, your spouse's defenses will be up so the best time to retain our services is while you are planning the divorce. We work with members of the legal community on many varied family law issues and have a respected client base of family law practitioners in California.
For more information about our services that may be necessary in a family law case, click on the following: