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The Utah Gumshoe: Cohabitation Investigation Tips for Attorneys

The Utah Gumshoe: Cohabitation Investigation Tips for Attorneys

Listen: Cohabitation Investigation Tips for Attorneys

What legally constitutes cohabitation can differ from state to state. The process of proving cohabitation involves more then merely gathering video of the subjects living together. You must obtain evidence that demonstrates to the court that the subjects are living in a relationship that bears the hallmarks of marriage. Consider these 3 tips:

1. Video Surveillance

In terms of surveillance, you will obviously want to get video of the subjects living together. That means random, surveillance spot checks over the course of a month or two demonstrating that the subject is residing at the residence late in the evening and departing for work the following morning. But your video should emphasize more than just a couple of people coming and going. Some highlights should include video evidence of the subject using his key to enter the residence or using the garage door code or a garage door opener. This confirms that the subject is free to come and go at will. Make sure you videotape the subject’s tools, vehicles, or other belongings at the residence. Video evidence of the subjects on date night, shopping together, attending family functions, performing maintenance on the yard or home, sharing chores or meals, and of course showing affection to each other in public can substantiate the relationship. All of this taken together will confirm that the subjects are cohabitating.

2. Trash Run!

American artist Andy Warhol once said “Just because people throw it out and don’t have any use for it, doesn’t mean it’s garbage.” That is never truer than in the private investigation industry. When you are attempting to prove cohabitation may I suggest that you begin by liberating the subject’s trash? It’s a stinky disgusting job but you may find a goldmine of information. You can find love letters, notes, joint bills, receipts, cards, photographs, condoms, condom wrappers, prescriptions, pregnancy tests, feminine hygiene products, etc. Some of these items can be taken to a lab to further document evidence of a sexual relationship.

However before you slap on the old latex gloves, make sure you familiarize yourself with the 1988 Supreme Court ruling California v. Greenwood. If you still have questions consult with an attorney prior to your dumpster diving diversion. And finally…

3. Social Media Search

Speaking of Andy Warhol, he’s also credited with saying “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes.” I can tell you that future is now. When searching for evidence of cohabitation you may find social media a treasure trove of tantalizing tidbits, including photographs. Facebook, MySpace, Instagram, Flickr, Pinterest, Google+, YouTube, etc. The list goes on and on. Will the social media evidence be admissible in court? Federal Rules of Evidence #401 states that evidence is relevant if it has any tendency to make a fact more or less probable than it would be without the evidence. Again, consult with an attorney regarding the admissibility of evidence gathered across social media platforms.

Of course there are many other methods that can be utilized for proving cohabitation. Not all attorneys will agree with the tips I’ve just laid out. But there’s more than one way to skin a cat. If this is a concern to you I suggest you consult a private investigator. An experienced private eye will be able to gather proof of cohabitation and allow you to leverage your case.

Until next time,

This is Scott Fulmer, the Utah Gumshoe, reminding you that the game…is afoot!

About The Utah Gumshoe Podcast

Scott B. Fulmer The Utah Gumshoe

The Utah Gumshoe Podcast follows the real-life exploits, riveting case stories, investigative tips and insightful advice of Scott Fulmer, The Utah Gumshoe. Scott is a 20 year veteran Utah private investigator, surveillance expert and President/CEO of intellUTAH, a private investigation firm based in Salt Lake City.

He has written numerous articles on investigative and surveillance techniques that have appeared in and other industry journals. He is a decorated combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War where he served with the famous 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels). Whether you're a novice or an experienced investigator this is the podcast for you.

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