Who’s cheering Brangelina split? The private investigation industry./ KARI PAUL,Marketwatch.com

The marriage of one of Hollywood’s most famous couples came crashing to an end this week, reportedly thanks in part to some clandestine work from a private investigator.

According to Page Six, Angelina Jolie filed for divorce from Brad Pitt after a detective she had hired found evidence of his infidelity, among other unseemly things (namely Russian prostitutes and drugs). These allegations, now splashed across the internet, may be bad for Brad, but for the professionals who investigate cases like these, the scandal could be great for business.

Jolie is far from the first celebrity to enlist the help of a private investigator prior to a divorce, according to Gil Alba, president of the Associated Licensed Detectives of New York State. In fact, he said, the majority of celebrities hire investigators in cases of suspected infidelity or pending divorce. Highly publicized cases like these can also serve to draw attention to the investigation industry as a whole, which according to IBISWorld was predicted to grow 2% last year, fueled by a rising divorce rate and increase in disposable income.

“This level of publicity would drive people to hire investigators more often in situations like these,” he said.

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Cases like Brangelina’s pique interest in investigative services for more than just scorned celebrities. Tom Ruskin, president of a firm that investigates highly publicized matrimonial cases, said they see a surge of requests from the average person after events like these.

“We get a lot more calls when something like this happens because people who have been sitting on the sidelines wondering what to do about suspected infidelity think, ‘Ah-ha!’ Let me go speak to this private investigation firm,” he said.

However, the average person may not be able to pay for the same level of investigation that Jolie might have enlisted. Private investigators charge an average of around $50 an hour, but experienced firms can cost customers hundreds per hour, and many cases require multiple people for surveillance work. For the rich and famous in particular, those steep prices are worth it, according to Ruskin. Celebrities have more to gain from hiring a private investigator than the most people, often working to avoid letting their personal issues play out in public. The more damaging information that is found in the private investigation, the more likely it is that the couple will settle out of court. This is particularly true in child custody battles, Ruskin said. (Jolie reportedly has asked for physical custody of the couple’s six children in her divorce filing.)

“Normally the stories that are coming out now are most often leaked by someone either close to the party or part of the legal team of the party for the purpose of settlement,” he said. “The parties usually don’t want to be dragged into court with the paparazzi outside and reporters digging deeper. They would rather try to settle with each other and find equitable custody arrangements for children and move on.”

Information that could affect these arrangements include drug and alcohol use and other behavior that would affect the safety of children. Upon breaking the news of the divorce, TMZ reported that Jolie was upset with Pitt’s parenting methods and consumption of marijuana, the divulging of which some characterized as a “ruthless” PR campaign and ploy to help her case. Whether Pitt’s parental shortcomings are fact or a strategically leaked rumor, the barrage of coverage influences public opinion as the real battle likely continues behind closed doors.

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