Does your client need to obtain evidence that their ex is living with a new love interest? A cohabitation investigation can provide solid proof. Here’s how.
By Brad Robinson, Professional Investigator
One lesser-known but very important (for some clients) service private investigators perform is “proof of cohabitation” investigations. This is just what it sounds like: our client has a legal need to prove that the subject (usually an ex-spouse) is currently residing with a significant other. Typically, this evidence is needed in conjunction with a divorce, spousal support, or child custody/child support case. It might be that our client’s ex is believed to be living at the new partner’s home or vice-versa. Either way, solid proof is required.
6 Ways to Prove Cohabitation
To obtain evidence of cohabitation, we employ a number of techniques (not all applicable in all cases), including but not limited to:
- Surveillance: video proof that the boyfriend/girlfriend is going from work directly to your ex’s home, staying overnight and then back to work the next morning makes for a compelling argument that he/she resides there — particularly if this pattern is repeated on multiple nights.
- Determining who owns/rents the residence and who pays the utilities, e.g., electric/water/cable/phone. We’ve found that, even if the house/apartment is legally in the name of one person, the person who subsequently moved in with them will feel compelled to take over one or more of the utility bills.
- Determining what official and quasi-official documentation shows one of them using the other’s address — driver’s license, car registration, voter’s registration, bank accounts, bank loans, credit cards, etc.
- Ascertaining whether the new partner has their own, current, residential address — if he/she does not own/rent a separate residence locally, co-habitation is far more likely.
- Covertly examining their garbage — we call this a “trash run” — can be very revealing. For example, – if he is having his monthly “Sports Illustrated” magazine delivered there, it’s pretty much his residence.
- Scanning various social media platforms. More and more, we are finding social media to be a goldmine of relevant information for our clients. We systematically collect and analyze data from dozens of social media, open web, deep web and archived websites and compile it into an easily readable report. We recently hit a home run when we uncovered a photo on his Instagram page showing the happy couple in her living room unpacking his stuff with the caption: “Move-In Day!”
In conclusion, there are a number of angles that an experienced private investigator can utilize to obtain evidence that Subject X is residing at Location Y. A cohabitation investigation can be more challenging than, for example, an infidelity investigation, but for the client who needs to prove this in court, the financial (and personal) pay-off can be well worth the effort.
Brad Robinson is an ex-CIA operative, now a partner with The Millennium Group – a South Florida-based investigations and security consulting firm staffed by former Federal Agents. www.millenniumgroup2001.com
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