Spouses often keep secrets from each other. That may be harmless enough when it’s over something minor, such as buying yourself a little extra treat or saying your back is sore so you don’t have to clean out the garage.
But when it involves the biggest secrets of all – infidelity and criminal behavior – the damage can be very great. If one spouse decides to have the other followed in order to gather irrefutable proof of an affair or other wrongdoing, you end up with two people who are married to each other but keeping major secrets.
It’s a rare relationship that can recover from that. And if the infidelity or criminal behavior itself is not enough, the fact that one spouse has hired a private investigator, or PI, to follow the other can lead to the relationship being too badly damaged to continue – even if the PI is able to clear the spouse who was being followed.
Any PI will tell you that most of their business comes from spouses who suspect their other half of seeing someone else. The one doing the hiring is most likely planning to divorce and wants to make sure they have an airtight case, for even in no-fault states a judge may take evidence of such behavior into consideration when finalizing settlements and child custody arrangements.
In some cases, however, a husband or wife may have their partner tailed hoping for proof that they are not having an affair. And if proof is found, the partner may hope their spouse will be forced to end it so the marriage can continue. Surprisingly enough, some wayward spouses may even take this as proof that the other spouse does care and the relationship will go on – at least, for a while.
But sometimes it is the suspicion of actual crime that prompts the hiring of a private investigator.
A person may become involved in something like embezzling, insurance scams, running illegal gambling games, or even drug dealing – and of course, they’re going to hide all that from their husband or their wife. They don’t want to get caught and face the penalties, and they want to keep any profits for themselves.
These activities can be extremely serious for the uninvolved partner. If one spouse is mixed up in some secretive illegal business, the other can be dragged down, too – even if they say they knew nothing about it. It’s hard to prove a negative and the law often assumes that spouses who live together do know what their partners are up to, so it can be very important to find out for sure.
There is an equally serious risk, however, in having a PI provide cold hard evidence as to what the offending spouse has been up to. Whether the activity is criminal or extramarital, the culprit may be shocked and angry at being caught and unable to talk their way out of it – not to mention facing serious penalties.
Such a situation is very volatile and can be dangerous, as emotions are running extremely high. This can lead to domestic violence and the consequences of that can be deadly.
So, if you are thinking of hiring a private investigator to follow your spouse, or – to turn the tables – if you think your spouse may have hired a PI to follow you, be certain that you really want to know the answer to the question you are asking.
It can be devastating to have to face the truth of a partner’s infidelity or criminal acts, and almost as upsetting to learn that they have lost trust in you to such a degree that they would pay a professional investigator from $100 to $500 an hour to have you followed. How can you tell if you are being followed by a private investigator?
First, a PI is legally allowed to follow you in any public spaces but may not enter private property, such as a home. They may also photograph you while you are in public. A PI is not law enforcement and cannot make arrests, nor can they impersonate law enforcement. When a PI is tailing someone, the last thing they want is to be noticed. Rarely will they wear a disguise; instead, they will do all they can to simply blend in and look like anybody else in that particular area. You may be picturing a man in a business suit, but unless the surveillance is taking place in the banking district of a large east coast city the PI is just as likely to be a woman in a t-shirt and jeans.
Keep an eye on vehicles that may seem to be following you on the road – turning when you turn, even when you don’t follow your normal route to work, for example – and who seem to stop and park whenever you stop and park.
Like the person, the vehicle will be something that is commonly driven in the area where you live and is not likely to stand out or be unusual. A PI is not going to drive a Tesla in a small rural town, for example, or an old pickup truck in an upscale neighborhood. Of course, if you believe you are being followed, you must be sure that it is not a stalker. That requires a call to the police.
But if you do think your spouse has called a private investigator to investigate your activities, you have a decision to make. Is it worth confronting your spouse and insisting that you are innocent, or does your spouse now have evidence that will prove what they’re accusing you of?
As noted, this is a volatile situation and it may be best to separate for some period of time and just talk over the phone instead of face-to-face. Sometimes, when things have reached this point, it is better to just cut your losses and end the relationship – but you are the only one who can decide this for sure.