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New Jersey Private Investigator & Divorce

Bob Cowan - Owner of Cowan Investigations, a New Jersey Private Investigator

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New Jersey Cheating Spouse Investigations

A New Jersey Private Investigator is very often retained to provide investigative services pertaining to divorce-related matters. At times, the New Jersey Private Investigator and his or her investigation is the catalyst for the divorce. The private investigator and the investigator’s work often becomes the cause of the divorce in infidelity or cheating spouse inquiries What is interesting in Cheating spouse investigations is even when the investigation uncovers infidelity the infidelity often does not actually make a difference in terms of the divorce. A New Jersey Private Investigator is often successful at uncovering infidelity in a relationship because the investigator knows the signs of cheating to be aware of An experienced private investigator will also be able to predict the best days to conduct surveillance in order to obtain evidence of a cheating spouse

In a New Jersey Divorce Litigation, infidelity and a cheating spouse does not result punitive or other negative sanctions. In most instances, a married couple’s assets, debts, or other liabilities that had accumulated during the term of their marriage will be divided “equitably” when the couple divorces. This equitable distribution will often include any assets being held in only one of the party’s name. In most cases, the manner in which the title to an asset is held which was acquired during the term of the marriage may be disregarded. Certain factors can impact the manner in which that asset may be equitably distributed. Despite this, a cheating spouse may be required to compensate the marital estate for any funds that might have been spent by a cheating spouse on the “other” man or woman. For instance, the money a cheater paid might have paid for travel, hotel, meals, gifts and other expenses associated with an extramarital affair might be factored into a divorcing couple’s property settlement agreement. New Jersey Family Law Attorney Peter Van Allen wrote a good article on infidelity and cheating and its impact on divorce proceedings

As you can see, although infidelity and a cheating spouse investigation may end you up in a family court going through a divorce, the cheating for the most part is not going to get you any more or less in terms of a positive outcome. With that being said, most client’s I have conducted cheating spouse investigations for expressed to me that it was important for them that they had evidence of their spouses infidelity.

Putting infidelity to the side, there are two other areas in a New Jersey Divorce or Post Divorce Litigation in which a New Jersey Private Investigator can be of an enormous benefit. The areas I speak of are child custody investigations and Alimony investigations or/ what is frequently referred to as New Jersey Cohabitation Investigations.

New Jersey Child Custody Investigations

One of the most important divorce related investigations a New Jersey Private Investigator can conduct is a child custody investigation. Prior to taking on a Child Custody Investigation it is so very important the private investigator determine the client is not initiating the Child Custody Investigation for improper reasons. Improper reasons could be described as; getting even with the other parent, the avoidance of paying child support etc. The only reason a parent should be engaging in a child custody fight should be for the best interest of the child or children When a New Jersey Private Investigator conducts a Child Custody Investigation two things are absolutely essential: discretion and confidentiality.

A New Jersey Child Custody Investigation should be initiated by the New Jersey Private Investigator obtaining as much information as possible. A thorough background investigation is able to uncover criminal records of persons around the children, whether or not the persons the children are exposed to have DUI charges or convictions in their past It is essential that the private investigator recognizes the importance of the use of comprehensive background searches in an effort to prevent possible or further child abuse, endangerment and/or neglect. For instance, if the mother or fathers new love interest is a “drunk” does this person drive drunk with the children? Does this “drunk” fall asleep while cooking? I think you get my point on how very very important it is to know who is around your children.

Before you retain a New Jersey Private Investigator to gather evidence you need to due your due diligence research on the private investigator. Hiring a private investigator can be a costly proposition so you want to be certain the investigator is knowledgeable in how to collect legally admissible evidence. You would be shocked at the number of people who will simply Google Search “Private Investigator” and call the number of the first advertisement that pops up without even looking at the New Jersey Private Investigators Website and or his/her credentials and background.

I have been contacted more times than I care to count by client’s who had hired the “wrong” private investigators and spending thousands of dollars before the client realized the investigator was either not competent to handle the case. Perform your due diligence research prior to hiring a New Jersey Private Investigator, end of story, the wrong investigator can be a very expensive proposition for you.

New Jersey Cohabitation investigations

New Jersey Cohabitation Investigations are not divorce investigations in the literal sense but could be better described as a post divorce investigation. In September 2014, the New Jersey Legislature revised the Alimony Laws in New Jersey. In September of 2014, Governor Chris Christie signed the revisions into law.

(Updated 2021)

Under the 2014 statute, the court may suspend or terminate alimony if a payee cohabitates with another person. Pursuant to the law, cohabitation involves a mutually supportive, intimate personal relationship in which a couple has undertaken duties and privileges that are commonly associated with marriage or civil union but does not necessarily maintain a single common household.

When assessing whether cohabitation is occurring, the court shall consider the following:

(1) Intertwined finances such as joint bank accounts and other joint holdings or liabilities;

(2) Sharing or joint responsibility for living expenses;

(3) Recognition of the relationship in the couple’s social and family circle;

(4) Living together, the frequency of contact, the duration of the relationship, and other indicia of a mutually supportive intimate personal relationship;

(5) Sharing household chores;

(6) Whether the recipient of alimony has received an enforceable promise of support from another person within the meaning of subsection h. of R.S.25:1-5 (“palimony”); and

(7) All other relevant evidence.

In evaluating whether cohabitation is occurring and whether alimony should be suspended or terminated, the court shall also consider the length of the relationship. A court may not find an absence of cohabitation solely on grounds that the couple does not live together on a full-time basis.

Two of the big changes in this law were:

1- A court may not find an absence of cohabitation solely on grounds that the couple does not live together on a full-time basis (It was now possible to find cohabitation if the offending couple “kept” a bogus apartment while one of them was not really living there but actually cohabiting).

2- No more “Permanent Alimony”- There had been so much criticism about the concept of “permanent alimony”, the crux of the criticism has been that permanent alimony hinders the forward movement of the person who is being paid the “permanent alimony”. Think of it, would you really want to move on with your life, maybe get married or just move in with someone you love if you were to lose fifty thousand dollars a year when you did? Permanent alimony has often been referred to as a v”winning lottery ticket”.

For the most part, if a Client (the payor) goes to an attorney in order to get his or her alimony payments eliminated because his/her ex-spouse (payee) is cohabiting with another the lawyer will refer you to a New Jersey Private Investigator The attorney will want the New Jersey Private Investigator to obtain evidence of the cohabitation before the attorney will file a motion to end alimony. The New Jersey Private Investigator will then seek to obtain admissible evidence of cohabitation by using the guidelines listed above (1-7) as a parameter in order to gather evidence. The end goal of a New Jersey Private Investigator is to provide enough evidence of cohabitation so as to enable your attorney to prove a “Prima Facie Case” of cohabitation.

** A prima facie case is the establishment of a legally required rebuttable presumption. A prima facie case is a cause of action or defense that is sufficiently established by a party’s evidence to justify a verdict in his or her favor, provided such evidence is not rebutted by the other party.


About the author:  Bob Cowan is the owner of Cowan Investigations a full service New Jersey Private Investigations Firm, Bob is the former Chief of the Jersey City Police Department and has 35 years experience as a police officer in New Jersey’s second largest municipality. 

If you wish to speak with me regarding this article, or if you need a consultation regarding it’s contents please do not hesitate to call me at 732-837-8444, seven days a week 8:00am to 8:00pm.


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