Research indicates that only about 3%-4% of married people are cheating on their spouse at any given time, and only 15%-18% of married people ever cheat at all. Yet, when relationships sour and a divorce starts to look inevitable, a lot of people assume that their spouse is straying. Sometimes one spouse will hire a private investigator to try to get the "goods" on the other spouse to use as a bargaining chip in the divorce. Whether or not you actually have moved on with someone else, if you think that your spouse has hired a private investigator to follow you, that can be a huge impact on your peace of mind. Here is what you can do.
First, put it in perspective.
If you aren't being unfaithful, does it matter if you let your spouse have you followed? It may not be worth your time and energy to even bother addressing the issue. On the other hand, if your spouse is shelling out big bucks for a private investigator while you're trying to figure out how to juggle the bills, you may want to put a stop to it quickly.
If you have moved on with someone else, does it matter in terms of your divorce? If you signed a prenup that has a fidelity clause, you could be endangering your divorce settlement. If you are carrying on the affair in full view of minor children or leaving the kids alone in order to sneak off with your partner, that could be an issue that affects custody. In addition, if you spent a lot of your marital funds on your new partner (like buying him or her expensive jewelry on a joint credit card or out of your combined savings account), you could be entitling your spouse to a larger distribution of the remaining marital wealth.
Otherwise, it may not matter. With the advent of "no fault" divorce, fidelity is less of an issue. It may make your spouse feel like he or she "won" something to catch you, but it may not have much of an impact on your actual divorce settlement.
Second, take specific action to stop the surveillance.
Private investigators have a lot more power on television than they do in real life. It's important to remember that they are NOT police officers and that what they call "surveillance" can also be called "stalking."
If you suspect you are being followed, there are several things that you should do:
Look for cars or vans that you don't recognize in your neighborhood and near where you work, shop, workout, or run other errands. If they seem out of place and always close to where you seem to be, you may have good reason to be suspicious.
Look for strangers that seem to be somewhat aimlessly wandering up and down your street, particularly if they have camera equipment.
Check your computer for recent updates that you didn't install and any disturbed paperwork in your home desk or office. Your spouse could have downloaded a keylogger program that tracks every move you make on your computer or installed listening devices around the room.
Have your car checked for a GPS device under the frame and look for voice-activated recording devices under the seat. Your spouse may be trying to track your movements or catch you in illicit conversation on the phone while driving.
Check your credit. If you find out that someone's run your credit without your permission, your spouse or an unethical private investigator may have done it to snoop for information, thinking you wouldn't notice.
Some of these tactics won't actually do your spouse any good because they're illegal, which makes them inadmissible in court. Is your name on the car? If so, your spouse can't legally put a GPS tracker on it without your permission. Thirty-eight states and Washington D.C. require that at least one person being recorded consent to the recording and 12 states require everyone on the recording to consent. Keep that in mind when you consider their potential impact on your future divorce before you allow the possibility that something was recorded to upset you.
Third, involve the police if necessary.
Finally, if you suspect you are being followed while driving, head straight to the nearest police station and point the person following you out to the police. If you suspect your home is being watched because the same plumber's van has been parked outside your home all weekend, ask the police to do a check. While you may be convinced it's a private investigator hired by your spouse, there's always the possibility that you have a stalker. It's better to be safe.
In addition, private investigators have to observe the limits of the law and the police will look into whether or not someone following you is licensed (if your state requires it) and is obeying the rules—such as not straying onto private property or peeking through your windows with a long-range camera. That alone might be enough to curtail any further activity. Once the private investigator knows he or she has been caught, there's often less incentive for the spouse to continue paying for his or her services.
For more information on what to do to handle the issue, or how possible evidence of infidelity could affect your case, talk to a divorce attorney, such as those at Garrett & Silvey Law Firm, today.