Anyone that has suspected their spouse of cheating or infidelity knows how horrible it is to live in the unknown, constantly plagued with worry and “what ifs.” You can put an end to this struggle by hiring a private investigator. A professional investigator will be discreet and provide you with an accurate, in-depth view of the situation without your partner knowing a thing.
The team at The Smith Investigation Agency has over 20 years of experience in the investigation and surveillance space with backgrounds in the RCMP, military, police detective service, and more. Expert private investigator Whitney Joy Smith, owner of The Smith Investigation Agency, provides her insights below on what you should know if you suspect your partner of cheating.
Ontario is a no-fault divorce province. Can you explain what this means regarding infidelity, etc.?
Ontario is known as a No-Fault Divorce province, however this still offers two options. Even after infidelity takes place, you can still pursue a No-Fault Divorce, where you simply apply for the separation and you wait one full year to divorce. The second option is a For Fault Divorce, where you are pursuing divorce strictly on the grounds of adultery or abuse. However, if you choose to pursue a For Fault Divorce, you will almost certainly require legal representation and proof of the adultery or abuse from an investigator. This can be quite costly and stressful – not to mention can end up taking much longer than the no-fault divorce would have taken – so many couples opt for a No-Fault Divorce.
What are some common signs you need a PI?
Realistically anyone who knows their spouse or significant other will know when something is off. Whether it’s the fact that they now hide their phone, suddenly delete all their conversations and emails, if they randomly put a password protection on their phone, and the list goes on. If they suddenly have irregular pay cheques or a strange schedule at work, the lack of hours on a pay cheque could be due to time spent with another person.
Also, take note of changes in behaviour; intimacy with their spouse may become less frequent or genuine, they may be more prone to anger or acting defensive, etc. If someone notices any of these signs in their spouse, it may be a good time to hire a PI to see what’s going on. We can monitor and track their activity to find out if there’s something to worry about.
What services does a PI typically provide in a matrimonial investigation?
If someone calls and says that they believe their spouse is cheating, the first thing we do is set up a plan based on the information they can provide and what the subject’s schedule is. We are not in the business to waste people’s money, so we make a plan that fits within the client’s budget.
In most cases, the first day of the investigation is the day where the most hours are put in as we are trying to establish a pattern or timeline for the subject’s average daily life. This includes: when they start their day, when they work, when they take lunch, meetings, etc. After the first day, surveillance is a little easier. Once we know the subject’s schedule, we follow based on what we think may happen. In most case, if someone is cheating it’s in the morning when they say they are going to the gym before work, on lunch breaks, during “meetings,” or in the evening if the subject begins to say they are going to the gym after work or have a late meeting, etc.
If we find the subject to be cheating, we can then offer an “other person investigation” where we can investigate and provide a background check on the person(s) the subject is seen with, including whether they are married, where they work, live, etc. We are cautious with giving out the other person’s personal information in some cases, as we do not want to see any harm done to the other person. This is a personal and professional judgment based on years of industry experience.
How can hiring a PI to strengthen your position in a divorce?
If you are choosing to go in the direction of a For Fault Divorce, it will require having proof of infidelity (or abuse). If the subject is hiding assets and financial data, the accuser would need proof of everything. In these cases, hiring a private investigator is definitely recommended. PIs know what the courts require and are able to put together a professional evidence portfolio for your case.
Why is it important to hire a licensed PI agency instead of pursuing amateur investigations?
First, a licensed and experience PI will be able to provide a more accurate and in-depth view of the situation. Investigations require care and expertise in which an experienced investigator will thrive.
Also, if you’re going the route of a For Fault Divorce you will need proof from a licensed private investigative agency – not even solely a licensed private investigator. If you obtained information from a friend, it would hold no credibility in court. If you hire a licensed private investigator and not an agency (which many people do unknowingly), then you will also have no evidence held up in court. All investigative or surveillance evidence used in a court must come from a licensed agency. It’s very important people realize this and verify an agency before working with them as there are many companies that offer investigative services that are not actually licensed agencies.
Are there any common myths about hiring a PI in a divorce case that you would like to dispel?
Most people think all private investigators do is work on cheating spouse cases. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Many people are shocked when they realize we do so much work for various companies, corporations, etc. Also, many people assume personal investigating is like an episode of Cheaters, but this is nothing like the work professional investigators undergo in the industry. We are completely discreet in our work; we do not make ourselves known or start issues with anyone. We discreetly and confidentially gather evidence and when the investigation is complete, we give the client the evidence and what they choose to do with it is their choice.
Why would someone want to hire a PI before divorce comes into the equation?
In any case, the more evidence you have, the better. If someone is in the middle of a separation and they had a suspicion that their partner was cheating for years prior, there is little you can do to prove this to the courts after the fact. It’s best when you first suspect something to get in contact with a PI – before even confronting your spouse. This will eliminate all of the unanswered questions you have rolling around your mind and get you to the truth. Then you can make an informed decision on your next steps.
Do you have to use the information uncovered by a PI or tell anyone about it?
What you choose to do with the information a PI provides you with is completely up to you. Everything is kept confidential and will never be brought up again, so the power is in your hands. I once followed a client’s spouse to another country on suspicions that their partner would be unfaithful while on vacation and it turns out the spouse was indeed cheating while on vacation. When the evidence was provided to the client, they just said thank you but did not press it further. They just wanted to know, but said it would cost too much in a divorce. They are still together today, and as far as I know the client never shared anything with the partner.
Is the information uncovered by a PI upheld in court?
Yes, as long as it comes from a licensed agency and was not obtained illegally in any way. If a PI company placed a GPS tracker on the subject’s vehicle in order to track them, it’s illegal and all evidence could be thrown out due to the investigator breaking the law. If the investigator is trespassing or breaking any other laws in obtaining the surveillance, a judge could also dismiss the evidence. Ultimately, a judge can dismiss evidence for a variety of reasons so it is important to make sure you work with a PI company that follows PIPEDA and other industry laws and best practices.
Is the information uncovered by a PI applicable toward a divorce agreement/spousal support/child custody, etc.?
It all depends on the judge and the severity of the case. We had a case where the spouse had been caught cheating over 11 times on camera. In this case, the judge was disgusted by the subject’s behaviour and this assisted in lending favour towards my client. In another instance, if a couple is divorcing due to drug use or a similar addiction issue on the part of one of the partners, professional surveillance documenting the subject abusing drugs while in possession of their children can help better the odds in a custody battle, for example.
Are there any reasons to retain a PI after the divorce is complete?
Of course, if the client feels there is something wrong. Surveillance may be considered after divorce if there is suspected drug use or other substance abuse on the spouse’s part, if certain subjects are not allowed to have visitors when they are with their children, if the spouse has parameters on where they live and where they go with the children, etc. Many people will hire a private investigator to confirm the situation if their alimony or child support is ceased due to a reported loss of employment. If a private investigator finds the subject to be working contrary to their reports, the client can use the proof to file with the FRO (Family Responsibility Office) and regain their financial support.
Are there any disadvantages to hiring a PI? Could it hurt your divorce petition in any way?
If you hire a professional agency, it will not hurt your court case. However, if you hire a company that does not know what they are doing, it could hurt your chances of finding information – and hurt your credibility in court. Some companies are juvenile and commit illegal acts in order to obtain information. Depending on the severity, this could hurt your chances in court. It is important to be cautious and do your homework when looking for a private investigation agency, and hire a company that works in your desired area of expertise.
Contact The Smith Investigation Agency today for a free consultation. Put an end to the constant worry and find out the truth!