There are times when your attorney will request that a private investigator be hired on your case. Private investigators can be help obtain documentation regarding lifestyle, assets, income, roommates, friends, paramour and parents, including criminal history checks , work history, demonstrating hidden affluence, locating and interviewing witnesses, and obtaining information regarding abuse or neglect. The private investigator can be called to testify as to his/her findings in court. I find them helpful in interviewing witnesses whom I believe may be adverse to our position or who may change their testimony down the road. The investigator's testimony can be used to impeach a witness on the stand if necessary.
Your attorney should be able to recommend a private investigator. Usually an attorney has one that they have worked with before or can get a recommendation from another attorney. Some private investigators will be licensed and some will not. In this area many of the private investigators are former law enforcement officers who have decided to go into investigation.
When hiring a private investigator, a consideration is the cost. Costs can vary but are typically in the $50 to $75 per hour range plus expenses. You have the right to a written contract at the time you are contracting the service.
In every case, there are issues of both law and fact. Private investigators can help make the facts become clearer. Solid, verifiable facts can affect the outcome of cases. Even the greatest attorney will have a hard time meeting his burden or proving his/her case without verifiable facts. Hiring a private investigator may be the best way to get those facts. You and your attorney will have to decide whether the cost of the investigator is worth it.
Source: South Carolina Family Law Blog published by Benjamin Stevens