The breakdown of a marriage is always stressful, regardless of the circumstances. Couples generally enter into matrimony in the full expectation of the union lasting a lifetime, and when that expectation is derailed in some way, it can be distressing and disorienting. The process of splitting up and becoming newly single is also understandably difficult in terms of logistics and details. When two people agree to share everything through legal partnership, the dissolution of that partnership is rarely straightforward. It can give rise to contentious legal proceedings surrounding property, financial settlements, and child custody agreements. These issues mean that the suspicion of co-habitation during divorce proceedings can exacerbate tensions and conflict to levels that have the potential to cause even more emotional and mental distress to those involved.
What do we mean by ‘co-habitation’?
When we live with another person – usually in the context of a romantic relationship – it is called ‘co-habitation.’ When we talk about co-habitation in the context of divorce proceedings, we refer to one party of the dissolving marriage living with somebody else, usually while conducting a romantic relationship. In other words, a married couple splits up and, during the divorce proceedings, one of them moves in with a new partner – usually moving the new partner into their home. While the marriage itself may be technically ending, the legal relationship between the former spouses is in a transitional stage during divorce proceedings – changing from being a matrimonial union to being a legal agreement of separation. This involves the detailed negotiation of terms, which is why co-habitation can cause significant problems and why those involved can sometimes go to great lengths to cover it up.
The problems co-habitation causes relate to property, maintenance agreements, and custody agreements. During divorce, the less financially secure spouse may seek an agreement for ongoing spousal maintenance payments. These payments are intended to aid the transition of a financially dependent partner into the situation of bearing sole financial responsibility for themselves. There may be child maintenance payments, intended to help support the care of a child. One spouse may have remained living in the marital home, while the other continues to make financial contributions to that property – either in rent, utilities or mortgage payments – during the divorce proceedings.
In such cases, moving a new partner into the home potentially has considerable bearing on the financial situation of spouse in question. The new partner may either be making financial contributions to the living situation, or not – in which case, the other spouse is potentially supporting their ex, as well as their ex’s new partner. Understandably, when suspicions arise about co-habitation in these circumstances, tensions and conflict can exponentially increase.
In addition to these issues of property and finance, co-habitation has great bearing on child custody arrangements. It is entirely reasonable for one parent to seek reassurance about a new person residing in the family home, and spending time with their children. Resentments can build around the idea of a new partner essentially occupying the space in the family base that once was their own, especially where the former spouses are unable to reach an amicable custody-sharing agreement. All of these situations can be eased with the help of a reputable Private Investigation firm.
How does a Private Investigator prove co-habitation during divorce proceedings?
When there are suspicions of co-habitation during divorce proceedings, and these suspicions threaten the integrity of negotiations surrounding child custody, financial settlements, or property agreements, then the right Private Investigation firm can help to resolve the issue by uncovering the truth. This is achieved with the deployment of a range of legal and ethical strategies and methods.
- Public record search – A search of public records can be very illuminating and can provide evidence of the current financial situation of a former spouse. Such records can include utility accounts and details of vehicle ownership. This information can enhance insight into the lifestyle and living arrangements of an individual involved in divorce proceedings.
- Social media audit – An audit of the publicly available social media accounts of a former spouse and the new partner with whom they are suspected of co-habiting can reveal the seriousness of the new relationship and, sometimes, the living arrangements of the couple. Evidence can also be gained relating to the amount of time the new couple spends together, along with the lifestyle of the former spouse.
- In-person questioning – By discreetly asking questions of neighbours, friends, and associates, Private Investigators can gather information regarding the living situation of the former spouse. Serving as eyewitness testimony, this anecdotal evidence can help to build an accurate picture of who is living at the property in question, and who is just visiting, on occasion.
- New partner background check – It can be very helpful, particularly where child custody is concerned, to conduct a comprehensive background check on the new partner of a former spouse, while divorce proceedings are ongoing. Not only does this kind of investigation provide you with peace of mind regarding the wellbeing of your children, it can also provide valuable information with regard to proving co-habitation. Generally, investigating the background of a person in this way involves the checking a range of publicly available information, including credit history, educational history, employment history, previous addresses, proof of identity, and driving convictions.
- Surveillance – Perhaps the most obvious of strategies for Private Investigators seeking to gather evidence of co-habitation is surveillance. The property that is the focus of the investigation can be subject to static surveillance, meaning that operatives will discreetly monitor the location, accumulating evidence in the form of activity logs, photographs, and video footage. In addition to confirming whether co-habitation is occurring, this type of evidence can also reveal lifestyle changes of the former spouse, which can in turn reveal the truth about their current financial situation. It can also record displays of affection between a former spouse and their new partner, confirming a relationship between the two.
Confirming the truth with Private Investigation
When the services of Private Investigators are described, along with the ways in which those services can be applied to issues of co-habitation during divorce proceedings, they can perhaps sound excessive. They may even sound as though they are likely to cause more conflict than they might resolve, if the other party found out that a Private Investigator has been instructed. After all, the marriage is ending, leaving both parties free to pursue other relationships.
While that freedom is certainly true, it does not leave either party free to take advantage of the other in financial terms. Nor does it leave either party free to potentially disrupt the wellbeing of any children involved. These are the reasons that the services of a Private Investigation firm are necessary in these cases. It is not to exact revenge for any perceived transgression, and nor is it to exert control over the living situation of a former spouse. Rather, it is to protect your interests, and those of your children, by confirming the truth; the truth about the living situation, and the truth about the person involved.
A key part of gathering this type of information through Private Investigation is that the evidence by admissible in court. This is because divorce is a legal proceeding – literally the change of a legal relationship from one form to another – and any element of the process that involves dispute can legitimately be decided in a court of law. If your former spouse is asking for maintenance payments, or contributions to the mortgage on the family home, but is also sharing the home with a new partner; if they are claiming to be single while actually being in a serious relationship that involves co-habitation, then you need evidence to support the truth of your side of the argument. Such evidence can be used in negotiation but is vital for official adjudication.
This type of court admissible evidence gathering can only be guaranteed by Private Investigation firms which, like OpSec Solutions, are accredited by nationally recognised organisations. The Private Investigation industry is currently unregulated, so the endorsement of the Association of British Investigators, the Institute of Professional Investigators, and the Professional Investigators Network are vital attributes for any operatives you seek to hire. In addition, registration with the Information Commissioner’s Office ensures that your information and case details will be handled with the utmost sensitivity and discretion and will be kept entirely confidential. OpSec Solutions boasts a team comprised of operatives from military, corporate, police, and government backgrounds. They are experts in security and intelligence, and bring with them a wealth of qualifications and experience in all kinds of cases. Using the very latest innovations in cutting edge technology, the OpSec team can quickly and efficiently gather together all the evidence you need to support your legal case and resolve your divorce-based dispute to your satisfaction. Moreover, by providing a fully tailored package reliably, and to the highest of standards, you can be sure that the safety and wellbeing of your family remains the priority at all times. Call OpSec Solutions today to discuss your co-habitation concerns.