In the United States, divorces occur about every 16 seconds. About 41% of first marriages end in divorce, and that statistic climbs with second and third marriages. These days, there is less of a stigma surrounding divorce and separation, largely due to the increased awareness and resources for domestic abuse victims. Further, since the women’s rights movement in the country, women have much more independence, financial stability, and ability to leave unhealthy relationships. These two factors are among many more that have led our country toward a more liberal and less stigmatized view on divorce and separation.
A huge issue that arises during and after a divorce is alimony. One spouse is often responsible for paying alimony to another spouse. Alimony can often be extremely expensive and excessive, especially when two spouses share custody of children and both are responsible for those costs involved with the children. Many alimony-paying spouses are not even aware of the ability to reduce or eliminate alimony costs. This can be done when one spouse can show evidence that the other spouse’s circumstances have changed, and the court is unaware of the change. The most common “change in circumstances” that occurs, is the other spouse living with a new partner.
If an individual can prove that an ex-spouse has begun living or even dating someone that has his or her own residence, this could be mitigating factors to reduce or eliminate the alimony that he or she is receiving. It is often a misconception that someone can receive full alimony and start seeing someone who has their own residence. This is where cohabitation investigation comes into play. For attorneys who have divorce cases or individuals who are paying alimony to ex-spouses, there may be something you can do to help your situation.
Private investigators can find clues that lead to evidence of an ex-spouse’s residence cohabitation status. Red flags or indicators of cohabitation include, but are not limited to:
- Sharing a residence
- Splitting costs of rent and other residence expenses
- Help with cooking, cleaning, yard work, and other house upkeep
- Sharing a vehicle
- New partner drives and/or watches over alimony-receiving spouse’s children
All of the factors above are indications that the ex-spouse who is receiving alimony, is also benefiting from financial and social interdependency. Private investigators will look for red flags like a car parked in the driveway every other night, spotting the ex-spouse going on dates, seeing evidence of another romantic relationship on social media, or evidence that the ex-spouse’s children are being driven or picked up by someone other than the ex-spouse. Perhaps the most effective way to obtain evidence of cohabitation is a video of the ex-spouse’s driveway because it could reveal the ex-spouse leaving at night or the new partner arriving.
Some of the ways that private investigators can obtain evidence of interdependency and cohabitation include surveillance, undercover investigations, tracking, monitoring social media accounts, examining public records, and looking into financial habits.
For attorneys that have clients who are paying alimony, it can be critical to show evidence of cohabitation or interdependency. Without this evidence, the alimony-paying spouse may continue paying alimony while the ex-spouse is being unjustly enriched. The purpose of alimony is to continue giving the spouse what he or she had during the marriage, yet when that spouse moves on, he or she should not be able to benefit and make a profit off of the alimony-paying spouse.
Private investigators know what the red flags of cohabitation and interdependency and know how to obtain evidence of it legally, and that could be used in a court of law. It is important to have a professional investigate and obtain this evidence because any faulty or insufficient evidence shown in the court will actually negatively affect the alimony-paying spouse’s reputation. The last thing divorce attorneys and clients want is for the alimony-paying spouse to look as if he is making up lies or exaggerations to try and get out of paying alimony to his or her ex-spouse. This is why it is so important to show up to court with sufficient evidence of cohabitation.