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Suspicious Minds - Signs of a Cheating Spouse

Forget the magazine checklists. No single list of suspicious behaviors can tell you whether your spouse is cheating or not! That includes this one. However, over many years of helping hundreds of clients through proving or disproving their suspicions, we have found that there are some telltale things to look for. If you are suspicious (and aren’t typically the jealous and possessive type) chances are that one or more of these clues has tipped you off, perhaps even subconsciously. If you are seeing more than a few of these, and they are not typical behavior, you have good reason to be suspicious. Be aware, as you observe your spouse and his/her activities, that your own emotions may cloud your perceptions about what is or is not going on. Try to keep an open mind, and control your reactions.

Adultery can be devastating and fill you with anger and frustration - don’t let your emotions get you into trouble! Keep your cool, and think long term.

  • How will you prove it?
  • How will you manage your finances?
  • What do you want your children to see, hear and know?
  • What is best for you and your children in the long run?

Confrontation may be tempting, but consider the advantages to keeping your knowledge to yourself. You will have time to plan. Time to gather evidence. Time to prepare yourself and your children. BUT be VERY careful - if you stay after you know your spouse is cheating, a Court may say you "condoned" or permitted, the behavior - if this happens, you won’t be able to get a divorce on the grounds of adultery! Being suspicious is not the same as "knowing", though. Talk to an attorney as soon as possible. Many South Carolina attorneys offer free or low cost initial consultations. You can call the South Carolina Bar Lawyer Referral Service if you are unsure what attorneys to contact.

If your suspicions are bothering you, consider hiring a Private Investigator. Whether your intent is to take your spouse to court, to enter marriage counseling or perhaps just to have peace of mind for yourself, a good Private Investigator can help you find out the truth about adultery and even hidden assets so you can move on with your life, whether you stay in the marriage or seek a divorce. A good financial professional along with your lawyer can help you claim, collect and manage assets, as well as help you avoid and/or manage debts. If you tip off your spouse too soon, you can be virtually certain you will lose many opportunities to gather valuable evidence. The best time to gather evidence is before your spouse knows you suspect him or her - think long term, but don’t "condone" adultery if you want to obtain a divorce with your proof! Again, the advice of a qualified attorney is the only way to be sure you handle this balancing act correctly.

Remember, in South Carolina, you must prove both "inclination" and "opportunity" to get a divorce on the grounds of adultery. In other words, you must show that the spouse and their lover had the "inclination" to have sex with one another, and that they had the opportunity to do so. Even if you have proof of every single one of these suspicious behaviors, you STILL must prove inclination and opportunity in order to get a divorce on adultery.

What we see when a spouse is cheating

Working a lot of "overtime": Your partner claims a need to stay late or work unusual hours. If your partner is paid hourly, you may notice that the paycheck doesn’t add up to all the extra hours the partner has claimed to have been working. Many people meet lovers at or through their jobs, so sudden changes in routine are legitimate cause for concern.

Unexplained Finances: partner has extra cash on hand, strange receipts or unexplained transactions on bank statements. Partner is suddenly secretive about known separate accounts or hides joint account statements. You may also want to consider reviewing your partner’s credit card bills for unusual or unmentioned transactions. (Unless you have joint accounts, it’s best to review bank and credit card statements after they have been opened by your partner, as there may be legal consequences for opening mail without permission.)

Unusual Activities/Questions: Your partner asks about your schedule more often than usual. Their clothes smell of perfume or cologne. Your partner suddenly begins showering/bathing immediately upon arriving home, or even before arriving home. Your partner starts doing or getting his/her laundry done independently. Mileage on car is high yet he/she reports only short distance errands. Your partner begins asking about separating your finances or opens a separate bank account or post office box. Friends see your partner in out of the way or uncharacteristic locations- without you. You find birth control items your partner doesn’t need or doesn’t use with you. Your partner suddenly changes his/her attitude about previously established faith beliefs, or refuses to attend services without explanation. Unusual defensiveness or secretive attitude. Uncharacteristic or sudden insistence on independent social life/time "out with friends", especially non-mutual or unidentified "friends".

No longer interested in sex: As years go by, many partners experience changes in their sexual activity. However, if your partner completely or substantially eliminates sex from your relationship then you should consider that there may be an affair going on.

New sexual techniques: Over the years you and your partner always had sex a particular way and now your partner wants to change things. Sometimes these desired changes are a sign the partner wants to improve the relationship - other times, it is a sign that they are learning and enjoying these techniques with someone else.

Saying "I need my space": Your partner tells you that he/she needs space, but cannot tell you why, or gives vague complaints regarding the relationship. This could be a way for him/her to move to the next stage; separation. You have a right to question what he/she is doing with this "space".

Unexplained use of cell phone: Your partner begins hiding the phone bill, or destroying all but the amount due sheet. Partner begins carrying and using a phone card. Suspicious or cryptic voice-mail messages. Cryptic texts on cell phone. Phone calls from you are not returned in a timely fashion. Partner leaves house or goes to other rooms to talk on the telephone. Partner begins deleting text messages and call history, but wouldn’t have bothered in the past. Partner refuses to answer certain calls without explanation, but soon thereafter finds excuse to use phone privately.

Unaccountable Hours: Your partner is not able to explain the reason why they have not been where they say they have been. When you call, they are "unavailable" at work. Credit card transaction dates/times occurred during supposed "work" hours. These are the time frames to consider scheduling surveillance.

Getting hang-up phone calls: Lovers, especially after a spat with their married lover, may wish to get back at them. Calling your home or cell phone is a way to make you aware that there is an affair going on without revealing their identity to you. Other times, the lover may simply be willing to call your home and take a chance that your partner will answer and have the opportunity to chat.

Excessive or secretive use of the internet: The internet has become a dating tool for both men and women. It is perceived as relatively anonymous and many cheating partners are found to have used the internet to meet and communicate with lovers. Unexplained late-night or secret use of the internet, suddenly deleting e-mail messages, using new or free e-mail accounts, and frequent "disk cleanup" activity may be signs of cheating. If you notice a change in settings so that history and cookies are deleted automatically every time the computer is shut down, it is possible that your partner has something to hide. If your partner isn’t savvy enough to hide them, you may find that the web browser history list contains unusual sites (this is a record of web sites visited).

Not wearing a wedding ring: If your partner no longer wears a wedding ring, it may be an indication that they want everyone to know that they are single/unhappy. Consider your partner’s cultural background, family traditions and past habits, since wearing a wedding ring does not have the same significance to everyone.

Nothing in this article should be considered legal advice. Your individual situation can only be evaluated by a qualified licensed attorney with full disclosure of your circumstances and reference to statutory and case law in effect at the time.

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