What Does a Child Custody Investigator Look For?

A child custody investigation can be an essential part of a guardianship case. Custody battles can be stressful and filled with uncertainty. You want to use all the resources and services at your disposal to ensure a positive outcome.

Custody cases — following divorce, separation, or other family issues — often involve proving competence as a parent. A family law private investigator can help provide evidence if you are concerned about your children’s well-being when they are with the other parent or guardian. They can also help you respond to allegations from the other side about your parental fitness.

Here is what you need to know about this type of case and the answers to vital child custody investigation questions.

How Does a Child Custody Investigation Work?

A child custody investigator is a private investigator, or PI hired to determine how a parent or guardian treats their children. PIs collect publicly available evidence, such as previous court case records. They can also interview witnesses and conduct surveillance. The audio, video and photographic evidence that they obtain can be admissible in court.

The results of the child custody investigation are meant to support your claims that you are a fit guardian and that the other parent or guardian cannot provide a safe environment for the children.

What Do Investigators Look For?

A family law private investigator looks for evidence of events or circumstances that will, or have negatively affected the child. The evidence may or may not be directly related to the care of a child or children. Sometimes, the PI will look for evidence that shows the children could be in an unsafe or unhealthy environment or situation when in the care of the other parent or guardian.

Here are some examples of what a child custody investigator looks for:

  • The subject engages in criminal activity.
  • They use drugs or alcohol.
  • They engage in reckless driving and fail to use proper restraints (child seats and seatbelts).
  • They interact with felons around the child.
  • They leave the child in the care of an unqualified, unapproved, or unlicensed provider.
  • They do not take the child to school, doctor’s appointments, or other necessary activities.
  • They leave the children alone or in the care of people who are too young or elderly to provide proper supervision.

During a child custody investigation, the PI will also question witnesses. They typically communicate with the lawyer representing you to ensure that the evidence they collect is helpful in the case.

What Can Be Used in Court?

The details of what a child custody investigator looks for will vary from case to case. Typically, they collect three types of evidence to use in court: images or videos from surveillance, witness statements, and background information on the subject of the investigation.

  • Images, videos, or audio from surveillance may directly show evidence of neglect or child abuse. It could also reveal that the subject is involved in illegal or unsafe activities. Finally, it could display a dangerous or unhealthy environment where the children would have to spend time if in the parent’s custody.
  • Witness statements could take several forms. The most important witness(es) will testify that they saw the children being mistreated by the parent. Other witnesses may have seen the parent engaged in unsafe or illegal activities or testify that they abuse drugs or alcohol. Finally, a family law private investigator may find witnesses who have positive things to say about your parenting abilities or character.
  • The final piece of a child custody investigation involves researching public records to find information about the parent. This could include searching criminal records or court databases and looking through DMV records. A PI may also collect information about the subject’s employment and behavior at work. 


Do You Need a Child Custody Investigator?

A child custody investigation is not necessary if you and your former partner have an amicable separation. However, if you are concerned about your children’s safety or if your former partner is unwilling to compromise when it comes to custody, you may need to hire a family law private investigator to help you strengthen your case and give you the confidence to work towards a positive outcome. A PI can also provide assistance by collecting supporting evidence if you are falsely accused of abuse or neglect. 

The specialists at Barefoot PI can collect the necessary information to support your case during a child custody hearing. With these professionals in your corner, you can be more confident about a positive outcome for your family or loved ones. 

Contact us today to learn more about our child custody investigation services. 

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