One of the most common requests we receive from parties involved in child custody battles is to prove the other party is using illegal drugs. The very first thing that we explain to these prospective clients is that it is incredibly hard to prove this. Let's be honest...people don't typically use illegal drugs out in the open and in public. This type of illicit activity is most often concealed inside a vehicle or inside a home. Private Investigators can only videotape a subject in "public view". That means that whatever a person would be able to observe out in public is fair game to be captured on video. We cannot, however, videotape folks inside their homes or anywhere that they have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
With this in mind, it does not mean that a private investigator cannot assist clients in child custody battles. Below are some things that courts and attorneys usually find to be valuable evidence in cases such as these:
1) BEHAVIOR INDICATIVE OF DRUG ACTIVITY - While the other parent may not be snorting cocaine off the hood of their car in the McDonald's parking lot...they may do things that a reasonably prudent person would determine to be "drug related". Things like driving in a high crime / drug area and having a hand to hand transaction that lasts mere seconds.
2) WHO DO THEY LIVE WITH OR ASSOCIATE WITH? - They may have friends, associates or roommates that have a criminal history involving drug use. This information can be helpful at trial.
3) TRASH PULL INVESTIGATIONS - The law says that once trash is placed at the curb for pick-up, it is considered abandoned property. Private investigators often covertly remove the subject's trash, take it back to the office and go through the bags of trash one piece at a time. It is extraordinary what we have found inside a person's trash. Needles, cannabis cigarette butts and small baggies with drug residue in it are a few of things that we've found.
4) THEIR ABSENCE WHEN THEY HAVE VISITATION - This is actually an very important piece of evidence to most courts and judges. When the subject being investigated has custody of the minor child for visitation...are they actually spending time with the child? Do they pawn the child off on grandma or a babysitter and then go out to the club or bars. If so, we can document this and include it in our report to the judge.
These are a few of the things we look for and try to prove in child custody disputes. If you feel we can assist you in your situation, feel free to give us a call.