Infidelity investigations are often a popular case type that investigators handle. One important part of taking on a new client is setting expectations, including for cost, process, outcome, and findings. Many clients may not understand the process, including associated costs and the timeframe for gathering relevant information.
For expert advice on the topic, we surveyed a group of investigators who offer infidelity and cheating spouse investigation services. We share 40 expert tips gathered from that survey below.
For more information on infidelity investigation statistics, view the Signs of a Cheating Spouse Infographic.
1. To start, take a look at this thorough breakdown of 11 expectations our investigators at RCI sets.
- Must be legally married, with no separation agreement citing ‘no interference’.
- At a minimum, client is expected to obtain consultation with family law attorney in order to determine if investigation is in best legal interest, and for making informed decision to proceed.
- Client agrees to fee-paid feasibility analysis, and;
- Only investigations indicated as having a high probability of success are accepted.
- Client may not interfere with with investigation, invade spouse’s or paramour’s privacy by any means, nor discuss investigation with unrelated 3rd parties prior to conclusion of investigation.
- Client must agree that investigative report, photos and video are only released to their attorney. If not having a lawyer, agency retains report until legal counsel obtained, however, client will receive thorough oral report upon conclusion, or early if warranted.
- Retainer is based on fee-paid, detailed estimate, and is rendered in full prior to initiation of investigation.
- Agency requires 5 days notice for cancellation of a scheduled surveillance without financial penalty.
- If spouse was previously and/or unsuccessfully investigated, client must honestly divulge that fact and produce written report of previous results (or attempt) for consideration of case acceptance.
- Client must divulge the sources of certain information regarding spouse or paramour provided to agency for the performance of investigation, and attest that such information was legally obtained and how.
- Any request to perform outside legal and professional limits are declined.
Further recommendations from investigators
- The end results are not always what a client wants or thinks it should be. We have had cases where we followed people off and on for months and never caught them cheating. When you report this back to the client there are some that simply think you didn’t do your job. We always tell people, just because they may exhibit signs of cheating it doesn’t always mean they are and we can’t catch people that aren’t cheating, cheating!
- The cost is always discussed up front, some people think you can catch a cheating partner in 1 hour and an investigation will only cost $65.00. In a rare circumstance have we ever caught a cheating partner within the first moment of beginning surveillance work. It’s often difficult to get people to understand that often when people cheat they don’t always meet with their lover daily or even every week. So sometimes it takes a little time to discover what they are doing. Time is money!
- Results to show they are or are not cheating.
- I let the client know that I will do everything in my power to bring resolution to their problem. Sometimes they are just wrong, and there is nothing going on. PI work is 50% luck and 50% skill. You have to be in the right place at the right time and have the knowledge to do a proper and professional job once the situation presents itself. I also stress to them that they will feel like the other person knows as soon as they walk away from me, that they are being investigated. I also stress to them to keep their behavior the same as it was the day before they met with me.
- Depending on the signs that raised suspicion and habits 2-3 weeks, $1,0000.00 retainer, explain our steps to provide results depending on the questionable behavior. And optional steps moving forward after confirmation such as attorneys or counseling.
- I generally tell my clients that it’s difficult to uncover infidelity with less than 10 hours of surveillance. Its possible, but not likely. I suggest a minimum of 20 hours of surveillance. Assuming I’m only using one investigator on the case, that will cost a client around $3000. So a thorough infidelity investigation will run a client a minimum of $3000. We like to have a consultation with the client before surveillance begins in order to iron out the details of the case (surveillance schedule, physical descriptions, etc). We cannot guarantee results and we usually take a full retainer up front.
- Timeline 1-3 days of surveillance. No guarantees that we will find anything. Will not induce the subject into making contact. Provide them with our hourly rate and mileage rates.
- I let my clients know what to expect up front so as they do not get unreasonable expectations. Cost is one of the first thing we discuss.
- Every client is given a realistic set of expectations as to what my profession can legally engage in, that is in some cases when they ask for off the radar information; it is explained that in the course of conducting an investigation it serves the client’s best interest in utilizing a legally licensed & insured professional. This allows all information harvested to be admissible and shared between both parties.
We always tell people, just because they may exhibit signs of cheating it doesn’t always mean they are and we can’t catch people that aren’t cheating, cheating!
- Timelines are given a pragmatic approach in each case as it begins to build steam. Upfront however the client is advised that until their mate is acquired, it will take an approximate 1 – 2 hours of observation; which leads to how the mate interacts in their setting. The client is then briefed on when to expect to hear from the investigator during the OP
- Fees, costs are presented on a case by case consultation basis, after the initial intake and qualifications of the clients wants/needs. The fee schedule is agreed upon and a binding contract is then entered into with the aforementioned listed as a description of services to expect.
- No pictures of them in bed together. Difficulties of the case based on their circumstances. It is not like you see on TV. Cost.
- Results can not be guaranteed, Investigators that say they have never been made in a surveillance have not done that many surveillances. Retainer is required and additional time/cost will be approved by the client. We will maintain daily communication with the client via a safe phone. Do they really want to know? What will they do when they find out?
- We explain that there are cases where their mate(s) will not be cheating. In certain cases, because of the controlling nature of the client, their mate may just be lying to spend more time with his/her friends. Whether to watch a football game or just hang out, all this is possible. We begin every investigation with the idea that the person could or could not be cheating. We then explain to our infidelity clients that once we begin to see signs (evidence) of cheating, we follow up on those leads to confirm or deny that they are directly associated with infidelity.
- Each assignment holds a different potential, cost, outcome, results and findings and are different due to the client, their mate and the paramour involved in the matter. With the matter of children and the potential of or outcome of domestic violence, this to will reflect in this answer.
- Suggest counseling. Full report will be given with photos and or video.
- The more information they provide me the more cost-effective and best chance of providing results.
- We tend to prepare them for the worst.By the time they call us they know the answer. They just want proof.
- Findings and end results. Pricing comes in after I try to help them determine if they really need our help.
- Our clients are told the expectations are entirely up to the individual we are investigating. It all depends on the activities that individual is engaged in during the hours of investigation. We tell our clients that domestic investigations generally cost between $2,500 & $5,000 depending on the circumstances of the subject. We have had domestic cases where we have billed $50,000-$75,000 and have always had positive results.
- Gather as much information about the spouse: habits and routines, names locations, relatives.
- I tell them the process for collecting data and/or surveillance, costs, and end results.
- Findings vary from client to client. No guarantees and timeline could vary. They will have evidence of good or bad to hopefully set there mind at ease.
- If your spouse is cheating I can prove it.If your spouse is NOT cheating, it will take much longer to prove he/she) is!
- We always tell them that we might catch the cheating spouse during the first surveillance (if he/she is cheating on a regular basis) or it could take much longer (if he/she is only cheating sporadically) or we might not catch them at all (if he/she is, in fact, not cheating or is no longer cheating).
- Make them very aware that some behaviors are not caused by infidelity, it can be very time consuming and sometimes a final conclusive result is not obtained.
First, I speak with them and ask them the first question: Do you want to stay married? If the answer is yes, I try to talk them out of hiring my company.
- Always advise the client that no results are guaranteed but we will do our very best to either prove or disprove infidelity; time frame varies so the client needs to be understanding of this.
- We explain first the cost and the potential for how costly it gets. We also caution that emotions will run high in this kind of investigation and to rely on us to get through it.
- Understand the total amount client would like to spend. Results are not guaranteed it is unknown what information will be obtained.
- Cannot guarantee results especially if the client has been trying to follow them or has been threatening to catch them. To expect that even when the subject is confronted with results they will deny it to the end. The client will usually expect them to confess, repent and beg forgiveness when confronted. That’s not going to happen. The client cannot go with you and will not be called to give details for an immediate confrontation. It will still cost the same with or without results and the money will be paid up front.
- I always tell clients not to expect anything because there are never any guarantees.
- I try to discourage the client from hiring an investigator and suggest ways of working on the marriage. In most cases the spouse knows the answer and is looking for confirmation. With current privacy law it is difficult to get good information. Today in some states even downloading a cell phone or using a GPS tracker on a vehicle owned by the client may be a problem.
- Each case varies on circumstances, income level of your target, etc. If it’s going on we can solve 90% or more of the cases using various methods, not just surveillance.
- First, I speak with them and ask them the first question: Do you want to stay married? If the answer is yes, I try to talk them out of hiring my company. The second question, if the answer is no, is how do you think you will use this information? Ultimately, the best client in terms of dealing with the process is the one who says I just want to know the real truth.
- I explain that the investigation could be expensive and ask them if they have thought if the funds could be better spent on counseling or attorneys. I tell them the case will cost 2,000 to 5,000 (and then we try to come in under that). We let them outline the time frames and tell us what they want for reports, video, etc. Whatever they want, they basically get.
- The most important thing to convey to the client is that the investigation really only speaks to the here-and-now of the period of investigation.We see one partner cheating or we don’t. There’s no way we can reliably speak to what they might do in the future, and proving what they may have done in the past is an uncertain proposition at best. Keeping the focus on the current period, and shaping the investigation techniques with an eye to what would you want to do next if he/she is cheating as far as documentation, is crucial.
- I advise that we cannot guarantee results, price, process and timeline.
- Catching them together within a couple of surveillances for their satisfaction around $800 and for court $1600.
- Process, cost and potential expectations.
These represent just a small sampling of suggestions from private investigators for setting expectations for clients.