How to Hire the Best Private Investigator to Catch a Cheating Spouse (2024)

Discovering that your spouse is cheating can be utterly devastating. You’re likely feeling a rollercoaster of emotions – anger, sadness, confusion, betrayal. While it’s a painful time, it’s important not to make any rash decisions. First, you’ll want to confirm your suspicions by gathering evidence of the affair. Hiring a private investigator is the most effective way to do this.

A private investigator has the skills and experience to conduct surveillance on a potentially cheating spouse and uncover definitive proof of an affair. This article provides a step-by-step guide on how to hire the right one to catch a cheating spouse.


Deciding if You Should Hire a Private Investigator

a person sneakily photographing a couple from his car

Suspecting your spouse is cheating is one thing, but before taking action, reflect honestly on what’s leading you to this suspicion. Have you noticed meaningful changes in behavior, patterns, or habits? Have communications started to feel different or distant? Do they seem to be hiding things from you? Is your intuition strongly signaling something is off?

While hiring a PI may seem extreme, definitive proof of infidelity can help with legal proceedings and provide closure. An investigation can also give you peace of mind if nothing is uncovered. Consider the pros and cons and listen to your intuition.


Finding a Reputable Investigator

Once you’ve decided to move forward, finding the right investigator is make-or-break. Some tips:

  • Search state licensing databases – Most states require PIs to be licensed. Check your state’s database to ensure they have an active license in good standing.
  • Look for specializations – Seek out a PI who specializes in infidelity and domestic cases. They’ll have more experience handling delicate situations tactfully.
  • Read reviews – Look for reviews on Google and Yelp. Pay attention to how they responds to negative feedback. This offers insight into their professionalism.
  • Conduct interviews – Vet PIs thoroughly by asking questions about their background, training, specialties, and fees. Look for one who makes you feel comfortable.
  • Trust your gut – Much like choosing a doctor, your rapport and instinct about a PI matter. Don’t ignore red flags just because they check all the boxes on paper.


What to Expect from a Consultation

a detective checking into another individual

Reputable PIs will offer a free initial consultation, either over the phone or in-person. This gives both parties a chance to vet one another and align on specifics. Expect the PI to:

  • Ask questions about your suspicions and what led you to this point. Be prepared to provide background details to help the PI assess the situation.
  • Explain their rates and fees upfront. Many charge hourly plus expenses. Get quotes from several to compare.
  • Describe their investigative process and capabilities. See what techniques and resources they utilize.
  • Provide references from past clients. Reach out to a few references to ask about their experience.
  • Review confidentiality standards and policies. Infidelity investigations must be kept completely confidential.
  • Discuss the deliverables. Most provide written reports outlining activities, documenting evidence of an affair. Some also offer photos/videos.
  • Address next steps if they seem like a fit. Be clear on timelines, contracts, deposits, and payment terms.


Do not feel rushed or pressured during a consultation. He will understand this is an emotional situation and allow you time to make an appropriate decision.


Investigative Approaches to Catching Cheaters

Experienced infidelity investigators have finely-tuned processes for catching cheaters in the act. Here are some of the techniques they may use:

  • Surveillance – Following a spouse to trace their activities and document any encounters with suspected affair partners. Quality photos/videos provide proof.
  • Background checks – Compiling info on suspected affair partners discovered through surveillance or other means, including criminal records, employment history, and financial records.
  • Phone records analysis – Reviewing phone records for frequently called or texted numbers and cross-referencing to identify potential affair partners.
  • Computer forensics – Using special software to recover deleted texts, emails, instant messages, photos, or documents indicating an affair from a spouse’s computer or phone.
  • GPS tracking – Placing hidden GPS trackers on a spouse’s vehicle to trace its movements and pinpoint questionable locations it may be driving to.
  • Undercover operations – Having an investigator pretend to be a server, bartender, client, etc. to directly observe a spouse’s interactions and activities at bars, restaurants, hotels or other locations.


The most effective investigators blend complementary approaches to find irrefutable evidence.


What to Do Once You Have Proof

a man sneakily photographing a couple

So the investigation is complete and your worst fears have been confirmed – your spouse is cheating. It’s another emotional blow, but the proof provides clarity and can help empower you to make wise moves on how to proceed. Here are some next steps to consider:

  • Talk to a therapist – Infidelity support groups can also be very helpful. Give yourself time and space to process the emotions before confronting your spouse.
  • Consult with a divorce lawyer – Even if you hope to repair the marriage, understand your legal rights and options. Proof of adultery can impact divorce proceedings in some states.
  • Get screened for STIs – Unfortunately this is an important precaution. Take care of your physical health.
  • Decide if the marriage is savable – With the guidance of professionals and trusted loved ones, reflect on whether the relationship is worth trying to repair through counseling.
  • Confront your spouse – This difficult conversation should happen in person when you’re emotionally ready. Have proof on hand and see if remorse and honesty are shown.
  • Prioritize your mental health – However you decide to move forward, continue working closely with a therapist and lean on your support system. You will get through this.


Signs It’s Time to Hire an Investigator

Now, let’s go back a few steps.

If you’re on the fence about hiring a PI, here are some common signs it may be time to take that step:

  • Your spouse’s behavior has changed significantly and their explanations don’t add up.
  • They’ve become extremely guarded of their phone, computer, records, receipts, etc.
  • They’ve started frequenting new places or hanging out with a “new friend” whose existence seems suspicious.
  • Their work schedule and habits have changed. More late nights in the office? New business trips?
  • You’ve discovered them blatantly lying about their whereabouts or activities.
  • They pick fights with you more frequently and exhibit intense irritation whenever questioned.
  • Your sex life has dropped off dramatically.
  • Your intuition is strongly signaling something is very wrong.


If several of these situations apply, it may be time for professional help getting to the truth.


Warning Signs of a Bad PI

an unidentified man browsing through files

While most are legitimate professionals, a few bad apples can take advantage of vulnerable clients. Watch for these:

  • They make unrealistic promises or guarantees about getting definite proof of cheating. Ethical PIs never promise specific results.
  • They push you to sign a contract and pay significant fees upfront before fully understanding your case. Avoid any high-pressure sales tactics.
  • They suggest illegal or unethical surveillance techniques, like phone tapping, trespassing, or planting cameras. A good PI will never cross legal or moral lines.
  • They don’t have a private investigator’s license or can’t provide references. This could signal a lack of qualifications or experience.
  • Their website and marketing materials seem unprofessional. Look for polished branding and services clearly outlined upfront.
  • Your interactions feel rushed or transactional rather than patient and personable. A quality PI will offer an empathetic ear.
  • You find bad reviews and complaints implying dishonest business practices. Check complaint sites like Ripoff Report.


Do plenty of due diligence to avoid being taken advantage of when you’re most vulnerable.


What You Should Know Before Hiring

Keep these additional tips in mind:

  • Prepare a summary document – Compile dates, locations, events, suspicious activities, and other key details to brief on the situation. This helps maximize their limited investigation time.
  • Be ready to move quickly – Time is of the essence in infidelity cases. Give them flexibility to start surveillance promptly once hired.
  • Understand legal limits – PIs cannot trespass, tap phones, or otherwise break the law. Be realistic about evidence they can legally acquire.
  • Consider hiring a PI firm – They have more resources and staffing to complete investigations faster. But expect higher fees.
  • Check insurance coverage – Some homeowners’ insurance policies include coverage for investigative services in cases of suspected infidelity. It can’t hurt to ask.
  • Be discreet – Never tip off your spouse that you’re suspicious or hiring a PI. Discretion is crucial for getting conclusive evidence.


Questions to Ask

a man using his phone while driving a vehicle

Come prepared with questions during initial consultations, such as:

  • How long have you been a private investigator? How many infidelity cases have you worked?
  • What training and certifications do you have? Are you a licensed PI in this state?
  • What are your standard rates and fees? Is there a minimum number of hours required?
  • What types of surveillance techniques and resources do you use in infidelity investigations?
  • What does your investigative process look like from start to finish?
  • How and when will I receive updates during the investigation?
  • What does your report include at the end of the investigation? Do you provide supporting evidence like photos?
  • Do you have references from past clients I could speak with about their experiences?
  • How do you ensure investigations are conducted ethically and legally?
  • How is confidentiality handled? How is evidence secured?
  • If an affair is confirmed, do you have any recommendations on next steps I should consider?


Tips for Working Successfully

These few tips will help ensure an effective professional relationship:

  • Check in periodically for updates, but avoid contacting them excessively during surveillance work. Let them focus.
  • Provide any new information that arises like suspicious phone calls, activity changes, or additional locations to watch.
  • Understand that surveillance work involves long hours parked in cars. Patience is required.
  • Recognize that evidence gathering takes time, particularly if individuals are hiding the affair well. Adjust expectations accordingly.
  • Pay all invoices promptly as agreed. PIs often have limited cash flow to cover expenses as they arise.
  • Give constructive feedback. Politely communicate any concerns so they can make adjustments.
  • When the investigation concludes, ask questions if any aspect of the report needs clarification.
  • If satisfied with their services, leave positive online reviews. These are extremely valued by reputable PIs.


Hiring a private investigator is a substantial decision. But an experienced one can discreetly uncover the truth – whether that brings you closure, evidence to move forward with a divorce, or peace of mind. With the right PI, you can gain back a sense of control during a devastating time.

I wish you the best of luck!


How soon after hiring a private investigator can I expect to get proof of an affair?
The timeline varies, but good PIs will uncover evidence quickly, usually within a few weeks. However, discretion is key so patience is required.
Frequently contacting the PI for updates, suddenly being unavailable to take calls from your spouse at odd hours, and acting noticeably anxious or on edge.
Phone records, bank and credit card statements, social media activity, travel records, and records of any properties or assets owned.
Generally no. A private investigator may track a car, but cannot illegally tamper with it. Discuss options with your PI.
You could hire a computer forensics expert to analyze devices. Or consider hiring a lawyer to issue subpoenas for records.
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