In the wake of the Ashley Madison scandal, one of the most common questions a divorce attorney gets asked during consultations is whether or not my client should hire a private investigator. At the risk of injuring the business of the private investigators I use for process serving, the resounding answer I give is “no.” The reason? You are your best private investigator. You have the most access to your spouse, his/her records, and electronic devices. You are also the person most familiar with your spouse’s behavior, and know when he/she is behaving strangely. Also, cheaters (much like criminals) all make mistakes. Whether or not they want to get caught, cheating spouses always forget to cover all their tracks and will leave a trail for your to find.
If you suspect your spouse is having an affair, start looking for his/her trail. If your spouse is suddenly on his/her cell phone more than before, has placed a passcode on the phone without your knowledge, or takes the phone wherever he/she goes in the house, then a good place to start looking is at cell phone records. If there are numerous calls and/or texts coming from and going to a particular number that you don’t recognize, then it’s time to start Googling that number! If you find a second phone, or a “go phone,” then I would forward yourself all the texts, photos and call logs you can find on it. Taking photos of the phone and the photos and call logs is a good idea too.
Another place to look is at credit card statements. Are there charges you don’t recognize at bars, restaurants, hotels, or for gift items such as jewelry, flowers, or clothes. Make sure you make a copy of those statements for your attorney, or at the very least take a photograph. Even if your spouse destroys those records, if you have a photograph of the statement, your divorce attorney will have the information he/she needs to subpoena records for the account!
If you can’t find a second phone, or you don’t have access to the phone records or credit card statements, then start checking pockets and vehicles. Shredding receipts is usually not a priority for a cheater when he/she is in the midst of an affair. Often those receipts get left in a coat or pant pocket, or wadded up and left in cup holders or glove compartments in a car. Make sure you keep those receipts for your lawyer. I would also recommend taking a photograph of the receipt and the location where it was found, just in case it turns up missing . . .
Lastly, always check the internet history on computers, laptops and phones. While your spouse may be wise enough to delete emails or chats with his/her paramour, the internet history will have a record of any websites visited or e-mail accounts used. This information will assist your divorce attorney in issuing the subpoenas to retrieve more exact information.
Remember, you are your best private investigator. If your gut is telling you that something is not right, start looking, and start gathering.