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nebule's avatar

Would I be able to employ a Private Investigator in the following way?

Asked by nebule (16452points) September 29th, 2010

There’s a long history to this question which I won’t bore you with but suffice to say that this issue is very close to my heart and I have tried everything else.

My son is four and his father hasn’t seen him for over two years. He never calls, sends cards or letters or anything. Although he does sporadically pay maintenance through the CSA they don’t hold a fixed address for him. The relationship between us is completely broken down despite me trying to make things right for a long time.

I have accepted that there is nothing I can do to make him want to be involved in my son’s life but I want my son to be able to find him if and when he wants to. My fear is that he won’t be able to because we don’t know now and certainly won’t know in many years to come where he is.

So, could I employ a PI to find and keep a track of his Dad over the coming years and if so how much would this cost me…around about? Do they even do this kind of thing?

Thanks for responses in advance x

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24 Answers

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Yes, you should be able to employ a private detective to do so, and I suspect that one would love to have a long-term project.

It probably isn’t a good use of money though, unless you are seeking to obtain child support funding. It’s fairly easy to track someone down these days. Why not just wait to see if your son wants to track his biological father down when he is ready? He may decide that he has no interest.

partyparty's avatar

I agree with @Pied_Pfeffer. You could hire a detective but why spend the money now? Wait until your child is ready – then spend your money. Good luck

nebule's avatar

…but what if he’s off the ‘map’ by that point? Wouldn’t it be easier and even perhaps cheaper to just keep a basic track of his movements?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

Unless there is a chance of him going into the witness protection program, take on a false identity or move to another county, people are fairly easy to track down. Do you have his social security number? If so, that might be something you want to keep on hand.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Wait until your son wants to know. In the meantime, make sure that your son has contact with his father’s parents, his grandparents, if they are amenable. They will be easier to keep track of, and without incurring costs.

The money you would spend on a PI would be better spent being placed in a savings account for your son’s college education. If it would run you $200 a month, starting at age 4, that would go a long way towards paying for college.

john65pennington's avatar

Are you on good speaking terms with his parents or any relative? his mother will know his location. sons always have contact with their mothers and she is the one to contact. save your money and let your fingers do the walking and talk to his mother.

Kayak8's avatar

There is no need to track someones trail for every step. You can re-encounter their trail along the way in numerous ways. I agree with saving your money at this time. It really doesn’t take a great deal of information to find someone in the world today. Unless he totally goes off the grid, hire the PI then to find him if needed.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Am I remembering that you live in the UK? Do you have some sort of Public Information thing? Could you save your money now and later find out where he is via Inland Revenue? (I have no clue, personally, just an idea…)

janbb's avatar

I would leave it alone for now too and try to trace him if and when the need/desire arises. It seems like the money could be better spent elsewhere. As suggested, you might try to keep contact with his relatives if there is some positive in it.

YARNLADY's avatar

It is an invasion of his privacy. If he does not want contact, leave him alone. My adult grandsons have recently contacted their father who left them when they were toddlers.

A private investigator charges at least $200 an hour for a single search, and they charge for every phone call you make to them, for every site they visit on the internet, and for every minute they can possibly bill you for. If you wanted him to work for you for several years, or as the father moves around, you would have to pay a monthly retainer on top of the fee, and that would be anyway from $100 to $1000.

You plan doesn’t make any sense. Doesn’t he have any relatives you can ask about him, or maybe a Facebook or MySpace page. If your son wants to contact him sometime in the future, he would probably be able to through the CSA, or a deadbeat father warrant issued by the court and investigated by the District Attorney.

nebule's avatar

@YARNLADY Why do you think my plan doesn’t make any sense? I’m rather insulted to be honest. What doesn’t make sense about wanting to know where the father of my child is…accounting for the high possibility that he will want to find him one day…and that maybe by that time it will be too late? No he does not have any relatives that I can ask.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It seems like it is very important to you to keep tabs on your son’s father. You have given the reason that you want your four year-old son to be able to find him one day (should he desire to do so).

I may be way off base, but it feels like there is an underlying reason that you wish to do so. These are just hypothetical questions: 1.) Were you or a friend adopted or deserted and always wondered why and where the parent is today? 2.) Do you fear that your son will one day want to search for his biological father, not be able to locate him and blame you? 3.) Is it you that really wants to keep tabs on him?

Another question; and again, no need to answer it here. Why did the guy desert the two of you? The response to YARNLADY of No, he does not have any relatives that I can ask sounds like he does have relatives that you may be aware of, but are not on speaking terms with them.

My recommendation is just to contact some local private detectives, tell them the story, and ask for their recommendations and price quotes. That, or just let it go. Should your son want to track down his dad at some point in his life, he can go on his search. And you never know; the guy may mature and get back in touch on his own.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@nebule, it doesn’t make sense because your son is four years old. Unless you make him feel like you are not enough as a parent and he should be seeking out his father, it’s going to be awhile before the kid is going come to the conclusion on his own that he would like to find his father. Do you really want to hand him the deadbeat on a silver platter?

Suppose your son does decide at age 14 that he would like to contact his father. And you’ve spent $200 a month x 12 months a year x 10 years on a PI. That’s an expense of $24,000. For what? To say “here’s the loser that’s part of your genetic make-up?” The interpretation of that is usually “I’m male, my father’s male. If my father’s a loser, I must be a loser, too.”

Or what if your son never asks? What if you spend the money, and after 10 years, the guy’s hit by a bus, and you’ve wasted $24,000? Do you really want to do that?

There is no good to come out of this plan. Why throw good money after bad? Keep track of him by going after him for child support. Let the courts keep track of him. Don’t let him off the hook for that. That’s the best thing you can do for your son.

YARNLADY's avatar

@nebule I agree with @BarnacleBill Thousands and thousands of children grow up without any contact with their father, and they never do try to reach them. I think you may be projecting your own desire to keep tabs on him, and trying to convince yourself it is for your son.

nebule's avatar

All I have to say is that I am quite disappointed and upset that people think I have such a lack of understanding about my self and my desires that I would say I’m doing this for my son when I’m not and that it’s a hidden desire in me to keep tracks on him for my own sake. That just makes me feel sick and wish I’d never opened my heart and the question up to such harsh judgement.

The financial implications are obviously a massive consideration and of course I wouldn’t and basically couldn’t (as I don’t have that kind of cash) spend that kind of money when the outcome might not warrant the amount of money involved (even if I did have the money to spend). That certainly seems a sensible assessment.

@Pied_Pfeffer There is an underlying reason. Is it so difficult to understand that a mother recognises the possibility that her son might want to know who his father is, regardless of how badly he treated him, even perhaps because of how badly he treated him? And in recognising that ensure that he has the opportunity to do so if and when he wants to? It’s a pretty categorical cert that most abandoned children want to seek out the absent parent. I don’t think I’m way off base here.

So, no I was not adopted or abandoned myself and blame does not come into it. I know that Theo will know that I’ve done everything I can for him to have a relationship with his father, I don’t have any doubts about this, I fear more that he will be deeply sad and disappointed if he can’t find his father – nothing to do with my feelings. And as I’ve said no, I do not want to keep tabs on him for my own sake…he has nothing I want or need. In reference to the sentence about him not having relatives that I can contact..I meant the sentence to be taken as a whole in which it was presented: he does not have any relatives that I can ask i.e. the relatives he does have I couldn’t ask because they live in Europe somewhere and I don’t know where and wouldn’t speak to me even if I did: the grandfather wrote me a lovely letter whilst I was pregnant saying ‘nothing good can come of this pregnancy, we don’t want anything to do with it’. I did send them photos and a letter when they lived over here just after Theo was born but they moved shortly afterwards.

@BarnacleBill As I’ve said the financial implications are obviously very important and I don’t have funds of that sort so I cannot pursue the matter further anyway.

@YARNLADY I’m pretty sure that statistically more children seek their parents that those who don’t. I will reiterate, I am not projecting my own desires to keep tabs on him on my son and I really would advise that people don’t make sweeping assumptions like this of people on Fluther as they can be incredibly hurtful.

YARNLADY's avatar

@nebule What I have suggested is not a sweeping assumption but merely a suggestion that you may want to consider. I am going to further suggest you visit with a counselor and see if you can get some tips or ideas on a healthier way to solve your dilemma.

nebule's avatar

Your suggestion tells me explicitly that you don’t know me very well.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@nebule : I understand your reasoning perfectly. My daughter is curious about her biological father (Sperm donor) even though she is very well-adjusted and never missed having a father in her life. She has no issues of abandonment, but is naturally curious, a healthy thing IMO. I personally would not not spend all that money NOW, I would wait, but I fully understand your reasoning. I suppose there are children who do not try to find the missing parent, but many many do. All the nay-sayers in this thread seem to be missing the point of this question, whether or not it would help to hire someone. Sorry I can’t give you definitive help, just wanted to express support and understanding of your dilemma.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

I am so sorry for upsetting you. Please be assured that this was not my intent. I should have left the questions out about possible underlying feelings. It was an unnecessary speculation that there might be something more to the story; no assumptions were made.

flutherother's avatar

A good friend of mine had two children, a boy and a girl. His wife walked out on him taking the children with her to live with another man. He never saw those kids again. When the children reached adulthood he hoped they would contact him. He has quite an unusual name, he lives in his home town and is on the voters roll and would be easy to trace but they never made contact. His way of coping with this is to consider his children dead. Not all fathers are like this but those that would like to be contacted by their children will make it possible for them to do so. I wouldn’t hire a private investigator at this time.

Tomfafa's avatar

What a question! I started wondering, lately, if even though I could father many children… would I be a good dad. I still don’t know, but I would really surely like to try.
I’m sure being a single parent hard… maybe even impossible! Maybe the definition of parenting is doing the impossible!
As for the (so-called) father… my dear sweetest of sweet nebula… as for the father… fuck-em!

nebule's avatar

I’ve avoided this thread for sometime but have collected my thoughts now so…

@JilltheTooth as you know I’m very grateful for your comments x
@Pied_Pfeffer It’s fine, thank you for your apology xx
@flutherother Your suggestion sounds as if it’s based on the idea that it’s within the father’s rights not want to be found…is that the case?
@Tomfafa I’m sure you’d be a great father! Parenting is certainly a massive challenge and even more so alone, I believe. Although really I don’t think that it’s the actual parenting that is so hard…it’s retaining a sense of self whilst doing it. The balance forever has to be met between providing for your children and providing for yourself and if you can meet both at the same time I think you’ve cracked it. But there are a lot of needs to be catered for within this.

I think this is why it’s ultimately easier to parent with a partner, given that you both love one another dearly. You share the responsibility and ensure that you each have time for your selves, one another and together… relieving the pressures.

flutherother's avatar

nebule It is a lot easier bringing children up with a partner and you have my admiration in doing it alone. And you are right that your needs remain important and it is difficult to meet those needs as a parent, especially a single parent. When you become a parent you take on a very big responsibility and no one has a ‘right’ to walk out on that responsibility. But people do nonetheless and no power in heaven or earth can force a parent to care for a child. Difficult though it may be, I think you have to accept the situation as it is and spend such money as you have, not on a private investigator, but on yourself, or on a Christmas present for your son.

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