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Private Investigators and Child Custody Cases

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Sarah isn’t happy. Her parents are going through a divorce, and they’ve been fighting non-stop. They can’t decide on anything: from who gets the house to whether or not her Dad will have to pay child support! They’re even fighting about who gets to keep the expensive china they were given on their wedding day.

For the most part, this isn’t anything new. Sarah is used to her parents fighting. What she can’t bring herself to think about is how she will now need to live in two places instead of one.


While some divorce cases are simple, there are many that become much more complicated because the couple has children. In Sarah’s case, if her parents can’t decide on how to handle their situation, the courts can decide for them.

Child custody cases are taken extremely seriously, no matter the circumstances. In North America, the needs, health, and safety of the child are considered from all angles before a final decision is made. For example, if one parent is deemed unfit or incapable of taking care of their child, by law, they cannot see their child.

This is also the point or moment when one or both of the parents will hire a private investigator. Most parents want to make sure that they get to see their child, while others know that their ex-spouse isn’t exactly the most responsible person. A private investigator can uncover evidence to help a parent support their case.

That being said, the ultimate goal of a private investigator is to help keep the child involved safe. A great private investigator will always think about what is best for the child during their entire investigation.

Why Hire a Private Investigator?

When it comes to child custody cases, there are three major scenarios where one or both of the parents might hire a private investigator. These scenarios include, safety concerns, false accusations, and financial support.

Safety Concerns

Most parents would do anything to keep their children safe. Unfortunately, private investigators are often hired to gather evidence against parents who fail to provide a safe environment for their child.

A private investigator will look for activities like, experimenting with drugs, drinking to excess, and leaving the child unattended. They gather this type of evidence using techniques like surveillance, and interviews. Surveillance requires time spent monitoring the parent, while interviews require the private investigator to speak with people close to the parent.

False Accusations

While some parents are truly unable to take care of their child, others will accuse their ex-spouse of all kinds of inappropriate behavior – even if it’s not true. From child abuse to neglect, a private investigator has heard it all.

A private investigator’s number one goal is to uncover the truth. They need to determine whether or not the parent is telling the truth about their ex-spouse. Remember, the evidence that a private investigator provides will help the courts to make a decision about whether or not that parent can see their child.

Financial Support

In scenarios where one parent has custody of the child, the other parent will often need to pay child support. Child support is an amount often defined by the court, and is set for a certain number of years.

Quite often, the parent’s financial situation changes, and they are unable to meet their child support obligations. This is something that the parent can negotiate. There are times however, where the parent tries to avoid making those payments altogether.

Here’s where a private investigator comes in. Private eyes can help to track down a parent that isn’t making payments. They can also conduct interviews and surveillance to see if the parent is spending the money elsewhere and lying about their financial situation.

Types of Child Custody:

Any evidence that a private investigator uncovers is presented in court to help demonstrate whether or not a parent is fit to have guardianship privileges. The evidence presented is critical because it will shape the terms of the parent’s custody agreement, which is legally binding. It also determines how often (if at all) a parent can see their child.

The terms below only serve as a small sample of the different types of custody a parent can have with their child. It is our hope however, that they provide those curious about custody with more information.

Sole Custody – Only one parent has the ability to make decisions on behalf of the child. The other parent could have visitation rights. However, they cannot legally make any decisions, nor do they have custody over the child.

Legal Custody – This type of child custody enables a parent to make legal decisions on behalf of their child.

Joint Legal Custody – Both parents have or share equal rights when it comes to making decisions on behalf of the child. If the parents can’t come to a decision, or agreement, the issue can be settled in court.

Joint Physical Custody – The child spends some time living with one parent, and the rest of their time living with the other. Both parents share the time they spend with their child.

Physical Custody – If only one parent has physical custody, the child lives with that parent only.

Do you need private investigation services? The Smith Investigation Agency can help! We have over 10 years of experience in child custody cases, divorce cases, and more. Contact us for more information:

About the Author

Whitney Joy Smith

Whitney Joy Smith is a prominent figure in the field of private investigation and security, serving as the founder and CEO of The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., Smith Security Inc., and Training Centre Canada, as well as a sitting politician.

With a remarkable journey that began in the early 2000s, Whitney's professional background as a private investigator is underscored by her unwavering dedication to the role. Born in Canada and having spent her early years between Canada and the United States, Whitney possesses a unique perspective shaped by her experiences in both countries. This background equips her with an in-depth understanding of the intricacies of private investigative laws, regulations, and operational standards in North America.

Throughout her career, Whitney has garnered numerous industry awards and accolades. She takes great pride in working closely with her continually expanding agency, striving to elevate industry standards, maintain compliance, and effectively meet the diverse investigative needs of clients.

Whitney actively engages in various membership, committee, board and support roles, demonstrating her commitment to the industry and professional community. She is affiliated with all local chambers, associations and more.

Whitney's wealth of experience is not limited to her professional achievements; her thought-provoking articles have been featured in publications ranging from Readers Digest, Cosmopolitan, Huffington Post, and Mens Health to Business News Daily. She constantly seeks to redefine standards and push the boundaries of excellence within the private investigative and security fields.

To discover more about Whitney Joy Smith and the dedicated team at The Smith Investigation Agency Inc., visit our website to learn more.

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