A family solicitor often needs to prove the cohabitation arrangements of one party, after a matrimonial break-up. Concrete evidence needs to be gathered which will prove the cohabitation as permanent and will not allow the cohabiters the opportunity to state they are visiting for a period of time, or are a paying lodger.
Often, investigation companies will undertake a few days of observation, see the cohabitee coming and going from the address and say they have proof of cohabitation. This would be insufficient evidence, as it leaves open the opportunity for alibis and excuses.
Recently a family solicitor approached us with such a dilemma – the client suspected his estranged wife of cohabiting with another man, whilst he was still supporting her in their martial home, even though they had separated sometime before.
As an initial starting point we conducted a data research exercise which showed, the male cohabitee had rented out his former home and all his financial documentation and finance agreements were at the cohabitating home address.
As he was a car owner we lawfully deployed a covert tracking device under his vehicle for a period of one month. This showed the vehicle leaving each morning and returning each evening. It also showed the vehicle was present during the weekend period. The tracking device shows where the vehicle is, not who is in it; knowing the time he returned home each day, we conducted a short period of observations to evidence him getting out of the vehicle and using the key to enter the front door.
So far good evidence had been obtained, but what about if he stated he was the lodger and that was why his vehicle was at the address and he had a key? Anticipating this as a potential defence, surveillance was conducted over a weekend. This showed the couple openly showing signs of affection such as holding hands, hugging each other and generally behaving in an affectionate manner. This clearly negates the defence that he is a lodger.
Armed with all of this evidence the solicitor and his client were able to go through the due process ready to repel any potential defence from the former wife or from the cohabiting male, as months of evidence showed clearly that he was residing at the premises, was in a physical relationship with the former wife and he had all of his public record and banking information recorded at the premises.
Even though this was a longer-term investigation, it was at a fraction of the cost the client could have faced, had this arrangement been left to continue.