child custody

What is a child custody investigation?

A child custody investigation is an objective observation of a child’s well-being and treatment, usually as part of a divorce, separation, or custody case.

A typical investigation involves an investigator assessing the treatment of a child by his or her parents. The conclusion of the investigator is then reported to the court and used in custody evaluations. When going through a divorce, a child custody investigation will provide reliable evidence without the bias.


Do I need a child custody investigator?

Though separations are never easy, child custody investigations aren’t always necessary, but you need an investigation if:

  • You are concerned about your child's safety. If you believe your spouse is unfit to care for your child for any reason, a private investigator can potentially prove your allegations with objective, legal evidence. In a divorce case, where tensions are high and accusations are made, hard evidence may be necessary to protect a child from an unhealthy environment. Ultimately, an investigator will work with you to keep your child away from an abusive situation.
  • You want peace of mind. If you are unsure if your spouse is fit to care for your child, an investigator can legally look into their background, habits, and parenting style in order to prove or disprove their ability to meet your child’s needs. Reliable evidence will not only stand up in court but will provide you the comfort of knowing your child is safe.
  • You have been falsely accused of abuse or neglect. Especially in court divorce cases, one parent will sometimes make false accusations in order to limit the other parent’s access to their child. A private investigator can gather evidence of proper conduct and ensure you adequate time with your child.

What are the different types of child custody?

After an investigator reports their findings, the court will decide the custody of the child. Based on the results of the investigation, there are a couple types of custody that the parents could receive:

Legal Custody: Parents with legal custody have the ability to make legal decisions regarding the child.

Physical Custody: This kind of custody determines with which parent the child lives.

Sole Custody: Having sole custody means one parent has both physical and legal custody of the child. The other parent may have visitation rights but cannot make decisions involving the child.

Joint Legal Custody: With joint custody, both parents have a voice in decisions surrounding the child. In the event of a major dispute, the issue will be settled in court.

Joint Physical Custody: Joint physical custody means the child splits their time and lives with both parents.


How does a child custody investigation work?

Depending on the specific case, a child custody investigator will use surveillance to determine how a parent or guardian treats their child. Investigators will legally document any abuse or neglect they witness in photos, videos, and audio recordings. They will also question potential witnesses, like family members, and conduct background checks on custodial parties. When investigating a parent, an investigator looks for things like alcohol abuse, criminal activity, reckless driving, gambling, drug abuse, and any other activities that negatively affect the child. They will also ensure that the parent is providing a safe, clean living space, healthy food, emotional support, and other necessities for their child. These investigators are trained to see the safety of the child as a priority. Sometimes, investigations are even conducted without the knowledge of the child in order to cause them less stress. If the results are problematic, an investigator will not only turn in a report but also testify in court.

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