Trust is essential in any successful relationship, whether that is to do with responsibility over money and family duties, being honest about important issues, or, if you marry, being fully committed to fulfilling the vows you made.

Sadly, it does not always turn out that way and many couples break up due to a lack of trust.

When a relationship is in its early days that may simply be a red flag that leads to you finishing it, but what happens when you have your lives tied together, either through cohabitation, civil partnership or marriage, and you have reason to suspect the ultimate breach of trust – cheating?

Infidelity would be clear grounds to end a cohabiting relationship and has historically been a cause for divorce in marriage. But if you suspect your partner is doing this, should you hire a private investigator to find out?

The historic divorce law in England and Wales does have a specific definition of adultery, which relates to having sexual intercourse with a member of the opposite sex. It excludes several other ‘sexual’ activities that might rightly be seen as cheating but do not actually extend so far as encompassing this definition.

Such a definition is also problematic because it only covers heterosexual intercourse, which would not fit a situation where you have a marriage to a person of the opposite sex but they were cheating on you via a same-sex relationship, or if you are in a same-sex marriage.

In one sense this does not matter so much since the instigation of no-fault divorce last year, but it could still be very helpful for any legal disputes afterward as you undertake to get the best possible settlement, especially if children are involved.

Finding evidence of adultery is not always easy. Sometimes you might find a smoking gun like a revealing email, picture or text message, but that will usually be a chance discovery.

A private investigator will go further. This could involve something clandestine like installing hidden recording or video equipment in your home if you suspect that illicit activity is happening there while you are away, but much of it could be a lot more mundane, like tracing online activity.

Such a step needs to be done by someone who knows the legal limits of what they can do, as actions like hacking are unlawful and not therefore admissible in court.

Of course, if you are not married, the provisions of divorce law would never have been an issue even before the introduction of no-fault divorce. It may simply be that you are motivated to find out If something you suspect is actually true, wrecking what might otherwise appear to be a sound and stable relationship.

Using some form of subterfuge, monitoring or extensive online searching might seem like the antithesis of trusting your partner. Sadly, however, there are all too many times when people will breach this.

While it is true that before the 2022 divorce law change only ten per cent of the marriages that ended did so because of adultery, the figure may be higher for those who have not made the formal commitment to another person that is meant to act as a bulwark against infidelity. Either way, if you are being cheated on, you deserve to know.

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