Among the explosion of headlines about the Angelina Jolie / Brad Pitt divorce, some reports are claiming Jolie had hired a private investigator to uncover evidence that her husband was cheating on her with recent co-star Marion Cotillard. The French movie star issued a strong public denial of any affair and took the opportunity to announce that she was pregnant by her long-time partner to boot.
I know nothing about the family life of Jolie or Pitt, but I am most definitely an expert when it comes to spousal surveillance. In my professional career as a as a private investigator, my firm has performed over 20,000 of these cases.
I predict marital surveillance cases for private investigators will become a rarity in the coming decades.When I started my business, I was a one-man show. In the early days, marital surveillance cases were my bread and butter. I followed husbands suspected of cheating for an overwhelmingly female clientele. For many years, these types of cases remained a mainstay of our business.
These days, marital surveillance assignments are less common. As a matter of face, I predict marital surveillance cases for private investigators will become a rarity in the coming decades. From the early 1980’s to about 2005, marital surveillance represented about 15% of our business. For the past five years, that number has been consistently at about 5%
Given the state of personal electronics, one could easily argue that full-scale surveillance is simply not needed. Cell phone records, texts, email, calendars, appointments… cheaters carelessly give up the game easily.
Men and women leave compromising photos right on their cell phone or tablet for anyone to find. Gwen Stefani reportedly learned that her husband was cheating when she found naked shots of the family nanny on the kids’ iPad one day.
Now a wife can just look on her husband’s iCalendar, note the locations, and track him in 20 minutes.
Now, this client might have been a bit paranoid… but there’s an old Joseph Heller quote: Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. Those who are merely paranoid make up about 3% of our marital surveillance clients. 97% of those who think their spouse is cheating end up being proven right. Some days I think the other 3% could be right too… and maybe we just choose the wrong week to follow their spouse.
There will always be a need for old-fashioned full-scale stakeouts. In a world where there is no shortage of high-stakes, big-bucks divorce, providing court-admissible proof of infidelity is a job that will never fully become obsolete.