Cohabitation Surveillance

There could be any number of reasons why you need to prove your former spouse is living with someone. Maybe they have a new partner moving in that might not have the best interests of your child at heart. Perhaps they are now living and being supported by their new partner – which means your alimony payments can be reduced, or even eliminated.

Is your spouse’s new romantic interest having overnight stays under the same roof as your child? What do you know about this person? Could they be a violent felon with a domestic violence and sex offender past?

How much each month to you pay your ex for spousal support? Why should you continue to pay her if she is violating a court order?

Is it worth the cost of investigating your ex? What is the true cost of not verifying your hunch on time stamp video footage? The answer is that your child can be in danger and/or you continue to pay those monster sized payments to a person who has no respect for a court order.

No matter the reason, private investigators know how to get the evidence you need to prove cohabitation – and amend your alimony and custody orders.

To prove cohabitation and show that your ex-partner is living with someone you may need one or more of the following for a successful motion to the court:

Identification of Individual
Background Investigations
Background Investigations
Interviews and Statement Retrievals of Key People


Surveillance is, for lack of a better term, going to be your best friend throughout this investigation. It is the foundation of a successful cohabitation case. Do not stakeout the home or hire an unlicensed person to gather your evidence. If you stakeout the home, or use an unlicensed person to do this you will be border lining on violating stalking laws. Additionally, because you are a party to the action and do not have the credentials of a license to support your evidence the judge may not weigh it very well in the courtroom. A licensed private investigator can raise their right hand in court to testify if needed.

Also, if you get “burned” then you will have lost the element of surprise, thereby compromising the integrity of the investigation and making a licensed investigator job much harder, thereby making your case more expensive in the end. Your ex may no longer do their pre-disposed behaviors and change up their lifestyle, activities and behaviors, which in many cases could require more field hours to capture the video footage you need to prove overnight stays.

A common strategy is to arrive at your ex’s home (or her new romantic interests home if she is living with him) as early as 4:30 am – 5:00 am to establish the overnight stay. If you get there much later, you are risking the chance of the person stating to the court they arrived at the home in the early morning hours before our arrival. We document all license plates on the property and capture time stamp video footage of all persons departing the home in route to work during our stay. Vehicle license plates can be run to identify the individual should you wish to conduct a background investigation.

Each state has different standards when it comes to proof of cohabitation. Some states may require longer periods of surveillance. If you’ve hired a private investigator to stake out your ex’s house (or her new romantic interest’s home), they should know how much proof is required and can use other techniques to speed up this process and provide multiple forms of evidence. In general, we recommend seven surveillance events at the property over the course of 2-3 weeks, which could counter an argument that they were just visiting while on vacation.

Identification of Individuals

This is relatively straightforward – but very important. Once your investigator has collected evidence that your ex has been staying overnight at a residence, or has someone spending the night with them, you’ll need to identify them. This can take the form of photographs to offer you a chance to positive ID the person and/or running DMV records of vehicles on the property. If your ex is staying at her new romantic interest’s home a homeowner search is not the proper path to identify the person’s name. Utilities should be checked because the home could be a rental and the person living there may not be the homeowner. Once you have the name of the person you can perform the background investigation.

Background Investigations

Once you have identified the name of the individual the next step is to use their identifiers (DOB, former address information etc.) to start the background investigation. It is important to identify the right person and not someone who shares the same name.

Background checks can discover a wealth of data. In the context of proving cohabitation to amend alimony or child custody order, background checks can potentially show that your ex and romantic interest are now reporting on data bases that they share the same address. Because data bases are not always definitive or can offer inaccurate and outdated information, (data bases regularly fail to report real time information), surveillance is essential to prove up to date activities.

If the results of our criminal background investigation reveal violent felonies, DUI and sex offenses, or moral turpitude concerns we can visit the courts to certify copy the records found so you can admit the evidence into your case. Certified copies of dockets, charges, convictions and sentencing information from the court are a must to prove the record exists.

Financial Asset Investigations

By having a private investigator research the financial affairs of your ex’s romantic interest, you might be able to bring to light that your ex is staying at a residence that they own, or even co-own with another person. It can help to prove that your ex is residing with someone who potentially has the means to support them, which can be instrumental in reducing or terminating alimony in its entirety.

Interviews and Statement Retrievals of Key People

The last step is to ask the people within your ex’s “sphere of influence” questions and retrieve statements that could potentially lead a judge to believe they are cohabitating with someone. This includes reaching out to their neighbors, friends and coworkers, with a focus on identifying people who have first-hand knowledge of the situation. It is also helpful to interview people who are believed to have challenging relationships with your ex as they tend to offer up a wealth of information. Friends tend to cover for friends. Statement retrievals can provide additional leads for your investigator to follow.

It is important to note that interviews should be performed in the last stage of your investigation to help fill in whatever unanswered questions you may have. By having the background investigation and surveillance results in your back pocket it would give the investigator the advantage of asking questions they already may have the answers to. It allows the investigator to listen for inconsistencies in statements and will also corroborate intelligence already gathered.

On its own, performing interviews isn’t going to be enough to prove cohabitation. But if someone slips that your ex-spouse has been living at that residence with their romantic interest, it can tip the scale in your favor.

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