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How does one tell if their Wife or Husband is being unfaithful? It’s a very tough question and one I run into all of the time with Clients. The fact is that adultery is almost never discovered by walking in on one’s spouse in the act. Most people that reckless would never have made it through an engagement period without being caught. For most people it’s an accumulation of circumstantial evidence that grows over time until some event or discovery provides confirmation. The confirmation is not always iron clad proof such as the act on video or with photographs, but you do not need that kind of evidence to prove adultery in Court, and you certainly do not need it to prove adultery to yourself. I have heard many statistics that support the idea that when people who have been married for a reasonable length of time begin to seriously suspect adultery, they are usually correct. I find this to be true in my practice as well.
But how do you know if your concerns are justified or reasonable? What if you are just being petty or silly? The purpose of this article is to provide some insight into what to look for in a practical sense, beyond the feelings of “I just know” or “something just isn’t right”. Clearly, when you are married to someone for a period of years and they change towards you in an intimate way, you can sense it, and you will know it, but that’s very hard to quantify and describe. In other words your feelings are not enough. I hope this article and the tips within will help you take a critical look at what has been happening so that you can be honest with yourself and take a sober look at the facts.
It’s impossible to compile a list of what constitutes good or “reasonable” evidence that would justify suspicion on the part of a reasonable person as people and their personalities are so very different. Different couples also operate with different rules and norms that would have to be considered. That being said, in practicing divorce law for over decade I have seen quite a few adultery cases and have compiled a list that I find to be the most solid subtle indicators that something is going on. I often go over with Clients to help them see what’s happened to other people and judge their own suspicions. I also use this with Clients who do not even suspect adultery in connection with their spouse’s sudden interest in getting separated. Almost every time the worst is confirmed by the private detective. This list is by no means all inclusive but I have found these issues to be real trouble signs in many, many cases. This list also excludes the obvious like lipstick on the collar, finding phone numbers, smelling like perfume and finding love letters or birth control devices. Use your common sense. This list is for less obvious clues. If you suspect adultery, consider whether any of the following applies to your spouse:
If you answered yes to more than one of these questions and have other reasons to suspect something, then you have some choices to make. Your options include (a) doing nothing, (b) confronting your spouse with accusations and suspicions but without hard evidence, or (c) attempting to confirm your suspicions and gather hard evidence while protecting yourself legally and contacting a divorce lawyer. I suggest you choose the third alternative and take steps to confirm your suspicions and protect yourself prior to confronting your spouse. The reasoning is simple. First, your spouse may be innocent and you could find out with a little more investigation. Second, if your spouse is guilty and you confront them, they will likely deny everything and leave the confrontation to destroy all of the evidence. Third, if you are confronting your spouse without a plan, you will not be prepared to deal with the response and if it’s a denial, you can bet they will be much more difficult to catch in the future.
As difficult as it may be, you must avoid the temptation to charge in and make the accusations unprepared. The dramatic and satisfying scene you have pictured in your mind ending with your spouse withering into a ball onto the floor in shame and tears of guilt will probably not happen. Most people who are having an affair will not admit it until they absolutely have to. If it’s been going on for any length of time, they have prepared responses and have already lied to you on numerous occasions. Their plan will be to deceive you unless they can see that you have them caught on video tape, and even then some people will continue to lie.
So, what should you do when you know something is going on and the warning signs are there?
First, meet with an experienced family law attorney in your area. They can tell you what you need to prove and what you will need to do it. They can explain what you should copy, what to look for, how to document things, and how to gather the evidence needed. They can also advise you on the ramifications of adultery in the event you divorce. Surprisingly, in some cases adultery by one spouse will not make a large financial difference while in other cases it can literally make a million dollar difference. Some states including North Carolina allow you to file claims know as Alienation of Affection and Criminal Conversation against the third party for engaging in the affair under some circumstances. These claims are not suitable for every case of adultery, and are sometimes financially impractical, however under the rights circumstances they can be quite valuable.
Ask your attorney to refer to a good Private Investigator within your budget. You will want a Private Investigator with experience in adultery investigation, surveillance, evidence gathering, GPS tracking and other background research as needed. Your attorney will have experience dealing with PI’s and will likely know which one would work for your case and budget. Good evidence can be hard to come by when dealing with a careful spouse. I recently had a case where my Client had grown very suspicious and there were many tell tale signs, but there was very little hard evidence. Weekend surveillance showed nothing and neither did phone and banking transactions. Eventually we determined that the spouse was using a newly issued work phone. Finally, our break came when the Investigator noticed from GPS tracking a detour on the way home twice a week or so, that lasted about 1 -2 hours and sometimes longer. It was traced and we discovered the rendezvous point where she was meeting a co-worker. Based on that information, surveillance was set up and photographic evidence of adultery was obtained. In this particular case the information saved my Client hundreds of thousands of dollars in future alimony payments, and it was all made possible by planning and exercising a little patience.
If you suspect something is going on with your spouse, the odds are that you are right. On the other hand, many people have wrongly suspected and accused their spouses of cheating only to damage their marriage with hurtful and false allegations and jealousy. Just being suspicious, whether justified or not has a negative effect on your mental health and certainly your marriage. I encourage you to deal with the issue so you can end this unhealthy period of suspicion, guilt and self doubt.
Finally I would note that infidelity does not always lead to divorce, and it does not have to. Many marriages have overcome the infidelity of one or both parties to come out even stronger than they were before. It’s not hard for any honest person to see things in their own behavior that may have pushed a once loving spouse away, and while that’s no excuse for cheating, it may help you to gain perspective. On the other hand, some people will inexplicably cheat for a number of reasons.
In any case, resolve to seek and find the strength to face the truth and deal with your situation by being honest with yourself and making decisions based on what you know versus what you fear. If you think divorce is your only option, then the attorneys Doyle & Doyle can help. Just fill out the contact form on our website or call our Raleigh office at 919-882-2057 to get started.