How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Private Investigator For a Cheating Spouse in 2024

Woman Contemplating Infidelity Investigation

How Much Does It Cost To Hire a Private Investigator For a Cheating Spouse

Facing doubts about your partner’s fidelity can be an emotionally taxing experience, coupled with the practical concerns of how to proceed in seeking the truth. Uncovering answers with the help of a professional involves some financial considerations.

You might wonder, “What options are available to investigate my spouse? What is the cost of surveillance to have my partner monitored? How much are background checks? Is digital forensics a viable option for me? And what about the expense of a polygraph test?” The answer to these questions will likely influence your decision-making process.

Understanding that the cost is a significant concern, we aim to provide an understanding of the choices you have while investigating a cheating spouse along with the associated fees for investigative services, including:

Our goal is to equip you with all the necessary information to make an informed choice. The overall costs of uncovering infidelity vary from case to case, and this overview is designed to guide you through these considerations. You’ll better understand what to expect, helping you decide whether to pursue this path or consider other options.

Specific rates for our company operating in BC, Canada, are listed in the Specific Fees for Infidelity Investigations at Shadow Investigations section below. Feel free to skip to that section if those are the details you are searching for.

Understanding Surveillance Costs in Infidelity Investigations

Surveillance, the most effective service for most infidelity cases, involves closely observing and documenting your partner’s activities and interactions with detailed notes and video footage evidence. Let’s break down the types of costs typically associated with this service.  

1. Hourly Rates for Surveillance

Surveillance service is typically billed at an hourly rate. This rate includes the time investigators spend actively monitoring your partner. Whether it’s following their movements, capturing video, or observing their behavior, you are paying for the professional expertise and time of the investigators. 

The required hours of surveillance differ for each case, and it’s important to note that no credible professional investigator can predict the exact number of hours needed to meet the overall objectives of an investigation. However, investigators can determine the fees for a specified period without making assumptions about the specific events that might occur during that timeframe.

2. Mileage Expenses

In addition to the hourly rate, mileage expenses are typically charged. This is calculated per kilometer in Canada, covering the cost of getting to and from surveillance locations and the mileage while actively monitoring.

3. Out-of-Pocket Expenses

At times, investigators may face incidental expenses to gather evidence. For instance, if your spouse goes to a restaurant with their affair partner, the investigator might incur restaurant costs while discreetly capturing video evidence from a nearby table. Similarly, expenses like parking or entry fees could arise if your partner visits a paid event. 

Investigators should always strive to keep these costs to a minimum and inform you if there are anticipated expenses.

4. Final Report Compilation Fee

Once the surveillance operation is complete, a fee is typically charged for the time it takes to compile the final report. This report includes detailed surveillance documentation and any photographs and video captured, providing you with the evidence collected during the investigation.

Some companies charge a flat rate for this, while others charge an hourly rate, and it is a good idea to clarify that beforehand.

Polygraph Testing Fees in Infidelity Investigations

A polygraph test, also known as a lie detector test, is another option as part of an infidelity investigation, and the fee is typically a fixed rate. This fee covers the entire polygraph examination process, including pre-test interviews, the actual testing, and the analysis of the results.

What You’re Paying For

The cost of the polygraph test pays for the expertise of a qualified polygraph examiner. These professionals are trained to administer the test and interpret the results accurately. It also covers using specialized equipment to measure physiological responses such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiratory rates during the examination.

Pre-Test Procedures

Included in the cost is the pre-test procedure, where the examiner will meet with your spouse to discuss the test and formulate specific questions. This step is vital to ensure the questions are clear, concise, and directly related to infidelity.

The Testing Process

The testing process involves your spouse being attached to the polygraph machine and answering questions. The examiner monitors their physiological responses to these questions, which indicate possible deception or truthfulness.

Post-Test Analysis and Reporting

After the test, the examiner analyzes the data and compiles a report on the findings. This report assesses your spouses’ responses to the questions asked during the test, offering insights into their truthfulness regarding the specific matters in question.

While polygraph tests can be a valuable tool in infidelity investigations, they are not 100% accurate, and their admissibility in legal proceedings varies. However, they can provide valuable insights and can be a significant part of the decision-making process in personal matters.

Background Check Costs in Infidelity Investigations

In the realm of infidelity investigations, background checks often assist in identifying and gathering information on the affair partner. They typically come into play after initial surveillance has identified an individual of interest while helping to create a more complete picture. This tandem approach ensures a more thorough investigation.  

1. Basic Background Checks

Experienced professional investigators, well-versed in conducting basic background checks involving public records searches, clearly understand the time and costs of these searches beforehand. This allows them to offer fixed fees based on the specific type of information being sought. Such background checks can yield valuable insights and are frequently utilized to pursue leads in infidelity cases.

2. Comprehensive Background Checks

When a more detailed investigation is necessary, predicting the exact time and costs becomes challenging as the inquiries evolve. In such scenarios, private investigators usually work hourly, adding charges for any specific fees incurred during the search process. A comprehensive background check often encompasses thorough reports on the individual’s employment history, financial background, criminal record, access to specialized databases, conducting interviews, and other personal information. This level of investigation demands more extensive and intensive research.

3. What You’re Paying For

The fee for a background check compensates for the time and resources utilized in collecting and analyzing data and the expertise and experience a professional investigator brings to acquire the necessary information efficiently. This cost encompasses access to various databases, public records, and any specific fees associated with procuring certain records.

4. Legal and Ethical Considerations

It’s important to note that all background checks are conducted within the bounds of the law. Investigators know these laws and adhere to legal and ethical standards, respecting privacy laws and regulations.

Background checks, when used alongside other investigative methods like surveillance, offer a powerful means to uncover the truth in infidelity cases.

Digital Forensics Fees in Infidelity Investigations

Digital forensics has become an increasingly important tool in today’s digital age. If you’re considering this option, it’s essential to understand the financial aspect of digital forensic services and the legalities and limitations.

1. Cost of Digital Forensic Analysis

The price for conducting a digital forensic examination on a mobile phone or laptop is generally fixed. This charge encompasses a comprehensive analysis, entailing a detailed inspection of the device to extract pertinent information like text messages, emails, photos, and browsing history. These examinations are often capable of retrieving data that has previously been deleted.

The fee covers the expertise and time required to perform this detailed analysis using specialized equipment and software.

2. Scope of the Analysis

Digital forensics involves using specialized techniques to retrieve and analyze data from digital devices. This can reveal a wealth of information that might be crucial in an infidelity case. Forensic specialists can often limit the scope of the analysis to agreed-upon parameters, focusing solely on any information found that would indicate infidelity. 

3. Legal Considerations

It’s important to note that your province or state may require the owner’s permission to conduct a forensic analysis of any device legally. This is often a critical legal requirement strictly adhered to in investigations. You can contact a local private investigation company for clarification on the laws in your area. If you’re considering this service, ensure you have the legal right or consent to analyze the device.

4. What You’re Paying For

Your payment covers the use of advanced forensic tools and software and the professional expertise of digital forensic analysts. These specialists have the skills to extract and interpret data that might otherwise be inaccessible or overlooked.

5. The Value of Digital Evidence

Investing in digital forensic analysis can provide crucial evidence in infidelity investigations. Digital footprints often hold key insights and can be pivotal in understanding the actions and interactions of the individual under investigation.

Understanding the costs and legal requirements of digital forensics is an integral part of your decision-making process. This service offers a window into digital activities that could be pivotal in your quest for the truth if you believe your partner would authorize this on their device.

The Role and Cost of OSINT in Infidelity Investigations

While considering the various methods used in infidelity investigations, it’s essential to understand the role and limitations of Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT). We offer OSINT services with a realistic approach to its potential findings in infidelity cases.

1. What is OSINT?

OSINT refers to collecting data from publicly accessible sources to be used in an investigation. This includes sources like social media platforms, public records, websites, news outlets, and other online forums. The goal is to gather information that can provide insights into the behavior, connections, and activities of the person being investigated.

2. Limitations and Opportunities in Infidelity Cases 

While OSINT can offer insights into a person’s public behavior and connections, it might not reveal the private nuances of an affair. Affairs are often shrouded in secrecy, with individuals typically going to great lengths to hide their actions, especially within accessible digital platforms.

Although your partner may exercise caution and avoid posting incriminating information or photos online, the person they’re involved with might not exhibit the same discretion. Open-source intelligence (OSINT) in infidelity cases is primarily utilized as a secondary method, typically after initial evidence of an affair has come to light and the identity of the affair partner is known. This approach involves swiftly locating and documenting any evidence posted online by the affair partner before it’s potentially removed. Successfully capturing this information can yield a significant amount of evidence and can also provide insights into the duration of the affair.

3. Cost of Basic OSINT Investigations

Basic OSINT fees are usually charged per hour. This cost covers the time and effort spent sifting through various online platforms and sources while documenting evidence found and compiling reports. Basic searches include examining social media profiles, online footprints, and other accessible public information.

Success Rates vs. Cost in Infidelity Investigations 

When you’re considering an infidelity investigation, it’s natural to weigh the success rates against the costs involved. We understand your need for assurance that your financial investment will yield results. Let’s address some common concerns.

1. Understanding Success Rates in Infidelity Investigations

Firstly, it’s essential to acknowledge that defining ‘success’ in infidelity investigations can vary. Success might mean gathering conclusive evidence of infidelity or, conversely, confirming a partner’s fidelity. However, the inherent nature of investigations means that assumptions about outcomes cannot be predetermined or guaranteed. Each case is unique, and outcomes depend on many factors beyond the investigator’s control.

2. Cost vs. Potential Outcomes

When considering the costs, think about what you are seeking to achieve. The investment goes towards gaining peace of mind, clarity, and evidence-based conclusions. While there’s a cost involved, the value of knowing the truth can often outweigh the monetary investment.

3. No Evidence Doesn’t Mean Failure

In some cases, the investigation may not yield evidence of infidelity. This outcome doesn’t necessarily mean the investigation was unsuccessful. It may provide reassurance and contribute to peace of mind, which is invaluable. If doubts persist or new information comes to light, consider reopening or choosing a different method of investigation.

6. The Commitment of Investigators 

Choosing a professional investigation company dedicated to delivering the most thorough investigation they can while adhering strictly to legal and ethical standards is crucial. While it’s not possible for them to guarantee specific results, they should promise a commitment to thoroughness and professionalism. They should also provide you with the best possible options tailored to the current status of the case and the information available at that moment.

Discretion and Cost Efficiency in Infidelity Investigations

In infidelity investigations, two crucial factors to consider are discretion and cost efficiency. If you’re considering the services of a private investigator, understanding how these aspects are managed within the industry and their implications for you as a client is important.

1. The Importance of Discretion

Discretion is paramount in infidelity investigations. You likely value your privacy, and maintaining confidentiality is a core principle across reputable private investigation firms. From initial consultations to conducting investigations and reporting findings, investigators must handle every step with the utmost care.

2. Approaches to Cost Efficiency

Private investigation firms should strive to offer cost-effective services. This requires careful planning of each investigation, considering all possible investigative methods to collect the evidence needed efficiently. Such an approach aims to reduce excessive costs, ensuring you receive valuable insights without being weighed down by undue financial strain.

3. Transparency in Costs

Most firms believe in transparent costing. You should be informed about all potential fees upfront, minimizing the risk of hidden costs. This transparency level is crucial to making informed decisions regarding your investigative needs.

4. Tailoring Services to Your Budget

Understanding that everyone’s financial situation is unique, many firms are willing to customize their investigative services to align with client budgets. This typically includes strategically selecting the most compelling opportunities to focus on. Operating within a constrained budget can yield worthwhile outcomes if you provide ample information for the planning phase. However, it’s essential to understand that working with limited financial resources may result in a less comprehensive investigation.

5. Efficient Use of Resources

Investigators must use resources effectively, utilizing current technology and proven investigative techniques to gather evidence in the most time and cost-efficient manner possible, regardless of the available budget.

Specific Fees for Infidelity Investigations at Shadow Investigations

If you’re considering an infidelity investigation, understanding the detailed breakdown of fees is crucial. This section provides a comprehensive breakdown of the costs for our investigative services at Shadow Investigations Ltd, operating in BC, Canada.

1. Surveillance Fees

  • Hourly Rate: Surveillance is billed at $75 per hour per investigator. This covers the time our investigators actively monitor and document your spouse’s activities and travel to and from the surveillance locations.
  • Mileage Fees: We apply a charge of $0.79 per kilometer, which encompasses travel during active monitoring and transportation to and from the surveillance locations.
  • Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Any additional costs incurred during surveillance, like parking fees or venue entry, are billed as they occur.
  • Report Compilation: A fee of $100 is applied once the case is complete upon request to assemble a detailed report with video and photographs.

2. Background Checks Fees

  • Specific Basic Searches: Flat fees range from $50 to $350 plus disbursement fees depending on the search type from public records.
  • Comprehensive Checks: For a deeper investigation, our hourly rate for comprehensive checks is $95 per hour plus disbursement fees. These typically range between $500 and $1,000, covering detailed reports on the individual’s employment history, financial status, criminal record, access to specialized databases, interviews, and other personal details that require more intensive research.  

3. OSINT/Social Media Investigations Fees

  • Open-source intelligence and social media investigations are invoiced at $125 per hour. We can run basic searches between 2 and 4 hours with the typical costs ranging between $250 to $500, plus disbursements if subscription-based databases are accessed. This includes scouring online platforms for pertinent information, documenting the evidence, and compiling a detailed report.

4. Digital Forensics Fees

  • The fee for forensics of a mobile phone or laptop is $700 per device, with the requirement that we have the owner’s permission to conduct the analysis.

5. Polygraph Testing Fees

  • A polygraph or lie detector test is priced at $600. This includes the pre-test interview, the test itself, and the analysis of the results.

Understanding your options and the specific fees can help you make an informed decision about investigating your spouse while setting realistic expectations about the financial commitment involved. Each aspect of our service is priced to reflect the expertise required to deliver thorough and professional investigative work. We suggest speaking with one of our senior investigators to decide which options best suit your needs.

Financial Clarity to Empower Your Choices

Understanding the fees involved in an infidelity investigation case allows you to carefully consider your options, effectively manage your resources, and determine the most appropriate path forward.

The length of the investigation, particularly with services like surveillance, is a crucial factor influencing the total cost. With surveillance billed hourly, the duration directly affects the overall expense. An investigation spanning an entire day will naturally incur a higher price than one that lasts only a few hours. Considering this during the planning stage is crucial for managing and potentially minimizing costs.

In the end, the choice to initiate an investigation rests with you. With a comprehensive understanding of the financial requirements, your decision can be balanced, considering your emotional well-being and financial capacity.

Our How to Setup an Infidelity Case article covers everything from the initial steps to take while gathering helpful information to choosing the right investigation company to work with, while our Complete Guide on How to Catch a Spouse Cheating serves as an overview for these cases, from the signs of an unfaithful partner to watch for to post-investigation considerations.

For a complimentary, obligation-free consultation, please get in touch with us at, or fill out our contact form below with your preferred contact method and a brief overview of what you would like assistance with. We keep all information confidential and only use contact information to respond to inquiries.

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About the Author

Photograph of Janet Helm, the Co-Founder and current Managing Director of Shadow Investigations Ltd.