It happens more often than people think. Whether it’s evidence for court or for peace of mind, clients often go through the trouble to hire a private investigator to see if their significant other is having an affair and then mess up the entire investigation through their own actions.

But first things first. To determine if a private investigator is really needed, we talk to the client about some of the warning signs of a potential cheating partner. These warning signs and their suspicions often pave the way for how we plan our investigations. We have found in most cases that if someone has enough suspicion to retain us, then during the course of the investigation, we usually obtain evidence that the cheating is actually occurring. Private investigators gather information through many different resources and techniques. The crux of the evidence in these cases is usually obtained through surveillance.

A cheater is getting away with it because there is a status quo in the relationship. And that status quo shouldn’t be changed once an investigator is hired. Typically, there’s been a pattern of behavior on the part of both the cheater and the spouse. When that pattern changes, it is obvious and can alert the cheater.

The client hiring the private investigator has to be sure not to change their normal pattern of behavior or routine during the time they are engaged with the investigator. Even the slightest changes in behavior can be picked up by the cheater, who is generally hypervigilant making sure they aren’t being caught. If noticed, the cheater can change things up, even cooling off the affair for a period of time, making it harder for the investigator.

It’s best if clients don’t do anything out of their normal routine or act any differently towards the cheater during the course of the investigation. This can be particularly hard if the private investigator has done a few days surveillance and has some evidence. Suspecting cheating is not the same emotionally as knowing it’s happening. Clients often lose their temper, and rightfully so, but if the investigator is still needed to gather evidence, the whole case can be blown.

Clients should also not tell anyone that they have hired an investigator. It’s very easy to put trust in the wrong person. You think that person won’t tell but word can easily travel back to the cheater.

When provided with evidence it’s important not confront the cheater with it right away. A client really needs to take some time to decide what it is they truly want to do. They need to be in a better frame of mind to make long-term decisions, and they aren’t right in the aftermath of evidence of cheating. We always recommend they take the information to their attorney or put the evidence in a safe place such as a safety deposit box at an undisclosed location until they can determine a clear plan of action.

A client should never interfere in the investigation. No one should know the identity of the investigator and what they are doing, particularly while on surveillance. Investigators purposefully do not give clients minute by minute updates of the investigation. The goal is to not have the client overly involved especially right at the moment things are happening. Interfering, constantly calling the investigator or showing up where the investigator might be while doing surveillance will essentially end the investigation. It puts both the client and investigator at risk.

Clients who are able to provide the information they know, work collaboratively with the investigator when needed, and allow the investigator to do their job will be in the best position to obtain the evidence they are seeking.