It’s a sad fact of life that not everyone’s faithful in their marriage. It’s not easy to catch someone in the act, but you can do some old-school sleuthing to figure it out.
You don’t have to follow them either—just look at how they’re spending their money.
We talked to private eye and New York attorney Philip Segal, who gave us these tips.
'Anything that is registered publicly can be found,' says Segal, noting this applies to mortgages, car loans and any leased out equipment.
'Most assets people collect will be in real estate or in a brokerage, but finding gold bullion in a bank is hard to do.'
Start out with public records to see if she's bought any property, or if your spouse provided the guarantee.
You might find that any company listed goes back to your husband's office, or worse, your home.
Logistically speaking, you'll have to physically track down the stuff by visiting the courthouse. The data isn't on Lexis Nexis, unfortunately, but knowing who the loan was registered to could be the first step in solving the puzzle.
If you have an inkling who the other woman (or man) is in your spouse's life, then track her moves PI-style and use your best judgment to determine whether her recent Lambo purchase seems fishy.
'You can roughly figure out the paramour's income to determine whether what he's buying seems to make sense,' says Segal.
If your spouse signed a mortgage for his mistress and you can prove it, the paper trail could help you in court.
'You can get the court to ask for bank statements,' says Segal. 'That's legal and the evidence will be admissable because it's legal.'
Digital assets, on the other hand, aren't as cut and dry. Not only does it take your spouse's all-important password and permission to access these goods, they're still regarded as permissible evidence on a case-by-base basis, which could put you in serious hot water if they were illegally obtained.
It's hard to get a hold of a car loan, but if you suspect that the car has been leased, you could visit the dealership and ask who was there for the purchase.
Another way to check is by slogging through secured loan documents. These are all e-filed with the Secretary of State.
Boats are licensed by state, so the appropriate department of state will be the first place to check.
You might also contact the Coast Guard to see if your spouse was in an accident recently.
'It's a state matter, so it will be recorded,' says Segal.
Digging up the goods on these purchases is similar to looking up a car registration, however, for private jets you'll need to check with the Federal Aviation Administration.
If you have the tail number of the plane, then you can really have some fun.
'You can figure out where the plane was flown, and which port (your spouse) docked in,' Segal says.
Club memberships are often transferrable and when they're sold, they're considered an asset.
You can also uncover your spouse's duplicity by looking into his professional whereabouts. Is he practicing law in another state? Doing business overseas when he's a doctor in Cleveland? That's a treasure trove of evidence right there.
'Maybe she's earning money from a place you don't know about,' Segal says, before adding one client found her spouse was using a separate salary to keep a tax haven.
Though you probably won't have the document to prove your spouse owns a TD Ameritrade account, if he invested in public stock then this information can be found in a public financial filing.
All it takes to find out is a simple name search on the SEC's website.
'He may be in there as a trustee of some big trust that owns stock, and perhaps there's a transaction where he isn't the direct beneficiary but signs off on someone's behalf,' Segal says.
To research a charity, ask for a copy of its tax return directly, go through a charities bureau or check with your state government. Most charities will hand you the info themselves as all nonprofit information is public.
If a spouse is running a charity and donates a portion of the proceeds to a questionable business--or uses the money to rent a lot of office space--that could be a clue that something's amiss.
Another place to look is Guidestar.com.
Sometimes pay packages are publicized, making it easier to track suspicious accounts and companies.
'If part of his paycheck's going into your joint account, and the other half is being deposited into some limited liability company in Virginia, then you could find some interesting things,' says Segal.
One client Segal worked with found out her husband was being paid in the states and through a subsidiary of the company in another country.
Take note of whatever's going through your mailbox, says Segal, especially if you notice funny company names (LLCs).
If your spouse was dumb enough to register the company to your house, you'll have an easier time tracing it back to its owner.
'The idea is to stay under the radar and only pounce when you've got good evidence (and an attorney),' says Segal. 'If you don't, he'll realise what's happening and move the assets.'
'You have to be patient because there's a lot of information to wade through. It's not like in 'Law & Order' where the missing puzzle piece appears on the first page of a legal document,' Segal says.
'When someone's hiding an asset, they're not going to make it obvious when you found the right document. There will just be a signature of what they bought, and that'll be your clue.
There's not going to be a flashing light saying you've solved the puzzle.'
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