How can I prove that my spouse is cheating on me?
You have this sneaking suspicion that your spouse is being unfaithful. She’s coming home late in the evenings and taking more work trips than she ever did before. She feels distant. She suddenly cares about going to the gym, which she never did before. You notice her nails are always manicured now and she has been recently updating her wardrobe. There are signs, but how can you be sure? You know your spouse will deny any wrongdoing, so how will you ever know?
If you have a hunch that your spouse may be up to something, but can’t decide if your fears could be legitimate or are simply paranoia, be on the lookout for any of the following signs:
- Your spouse is less interested
- Any unexplained change in your sex life
- Your spouse seems to be looking for things to fight about
- Any change in grooming habits
- Your spouse is being secretive with their phone or computer
- A change in your spouse’s work routine
- New password protecting
- Name dropping a new person frequently
While a gut feeling is often enough, if that is coupled with any of the signs listed above, then you should consider digging a little deeper.
What You Can’t Do
First, understand there are certain surefire ways to catch a cheating spouse. You can install spyware on her phone or laptop. You can place video recorders in her car so you know who is in the vehicle with her at all times. You can put a GPS recorder on her car so you know where she is at all times. But understand, most of these methods are illegal, and could subject you to liability under state and federal wiretapping laws. We discuss impermissible spousal spying and the ramifications of using these methods in our article: Federal Laws on Spousal Spying: Electronic Communications Privacy Act.
What You Can Do
Hire a PI
The best legal way to catch a cheating spouse is to hire a private investigator (PI). PI’s have a lot of resources available when it comes to investigating a case. We share stories about PIs and discuss their role in greater detail in our article, Can a Private Investigator Help My Divorce Case?, but below is a small list of services offered by a PI.
- Track your spouse’s movements
- Snap photos of your spouse
- Place a GPS tracking device on a vehicle
- Install home surveillance equipment
- Run background checks on individuals your spouse is associating with
PIs have also been known to strategize with their clients on how to setup a situation that may entice the spouse to be less cautious. In one particular case we had, the PI was having a hard time catching the spouse because the spouse was being so discreet. The PI suggested to his client that she take a weekend trip. Sure enough, practically as soon as she pulled out of the driveway another car pulled in, and it was that female coworker she had been suspicious about. It wasn’t long before that PI had evidence to implicate the husband in an affair.
Before you hire a PI, we suggest you talk to an attorney. If an affair is going to have little or no impact on your case, it may not be worth it to spend your money trying to bust your spouse in the act. Then again, if it could have an impact on your case or if it could help you decide whether or not to stay in the marriage, then it may in fact be worth it. An attorney can advise you if it’s worth hiring a PI before you actually spend the money on it.
Be your own PI
There is nothing wrong with you following your spouse around to see if she is actually going to the gym when she says she is. In some cases, it may be permissible to pick up her phone and take a quick look at her emails and text messages when she is in another room. You can show up at her office after hours when she alleges she’s working to see if she’s there or not. You can also start keeping closer tabs on your finances. If she is spending more money on eating out or shopping, that can be telling.
Another easy way to be your own PI is to ask your cell phone provider to provide an itemized call log. Some providers will include this with your monthly bill, others will send it on demand. As long as you and your spouse are on the same plan, there should be no issue with you gaining access to the call log. If you start seeing the same number appearing over and over again, that might be a clue.
While it may be easy to gain access to your spouse’s call log, text messages are more difficult. You may be able to obtain a list of the phone numbers your spouse engages in text messages with, but the actual content of the texts is typically not something you can obtain from the phone company.
There are plenty of ways you can do your own evidence gathering, just be careful not to overstep the state and federal wiretapping laws we mentioned above.
Keep Tabs on Social Media
Social media often serves as a catalyst for an extramarital affair for several reasons. First, It allows for an easy connection with former significant others. Before social media, if you broke up with a boyfriend or girlfriend chances are you wouldn’t stay in their life or keep up with what they were doing. Now finding out what your ex is up to is as easy as typing their name into the Facebook search box. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are all platforms that can facilitate rekindling an old romance.
Social media also makes it easier to flirt with strangers or casual acquaintances. You innocently think that co-worker on the fifth floor is cute, you “friend” him and boom, now you have access to a means of communication with him and a library of his pictures. One thing leads to another and before you know it you’re using social media to plan a rendezvous. Social media provides accessibility – without it that relationship with the coworker may never have gone beyond casual workplace chitchat.
Not surprisingly, social media also provides a platform to catch a cheating spouse. Quite frequently extra-marital affairs are exposed by a tweet or Facebook activity. Tracking your spouse’s social media movements, as well as others close to her, may be an easy way to find evidence pointing to an affair. Monitor who likes her photos and posts, keep track of who comments on her social media activity, and also keep a apprised of any new connections made that you aren’t familiar with.
So What’s Your Next Step?
Sometimes those sneaking suspicions are nothing. Your spouse might be working on a tight deadline, which really is causing her to be distant and work late hours. She may be exercising more because work has gotten more stressful and exercise provides relief. And the new clothes may just be the result of an long overdue shopping spree.
On the other hand, sometimes those suspicions are valid. If the signs are there, dig a little deeper and see what evidence you can find on your own. Paying close attention to bank statements, social media, and phone records might provide you with all of the evidence you need. If you think you want to hire a PI, consult with an attorney first to discuss the pros and cons and whether it is a good investment in your case.