With divorce rates in the U.S. running between 40 and 50 percent, there's a high chance that a new friend or someone you're dating has been married before – and possibly more than once. The easiest way to find out for sure is to ask your companion. If that's not appealing, you could try searching public marriage records or hiring an investigator to trace the information for you.
Many people are understandably nervous when talking about their failed relationships, so you need to be sensitive in approaching the situation. The conversation will likely go more smoothly if you have an established relationship with someone. If you've only just met, she may think you're being impertinent. Be direct when asking about previous marriages, but at the same time, save for another time any attempts to delve into reasons for failure of the marriage. Your friend may fear that her baggage will affect your opinion of her. Keep it lighthearted until you've worked out how you feel about the information.
Check Public Records
A surefire way to find out if people are married is to search public records, which anyone can do as long as the state doesn't have privacy restrictions in place. The bad news is that there's no single database where you can look for marriage records. In most cases, you'll have to visit the county courthouse where the marriage or divorce took place. The National Center for Health Statistics website has helpful links. You'll generally need specifics such as the person's full name and the approximate date of the wedding to access the records. Keep in mind that if the person married and divorced halfway across the country, you'll have to visit multiple places to get the information you need.
Purchase a DIY Background Check
If traveling back and forth to dozens of counties doesn't sound appealing, try Info Tracer. This online background checking service specializes in searching marriage and divorce records. All you need to do is enter the person's name and state into the search form. In just minutes, you'll receive a report specifying the marriage date, names of the bride and groom, county of filing and divorce information. To access the report, you can choose to pay a one-time fee or a nominal amount for a five-day trial.
Hire a Professional Investigator
If you want to find out whether someone has been married without that person knowing about it, consider hiring an investigator. Most agencies will carry out a full-service background check that includes marriage and divorce records, criminal records, bankruptcies, credit checks and more, for a fee of around $50 per hour. Professional agencies check multiple databases in multiple locations and should be able to find all the divorce and marriage records you need. Service levels and fees vary, so be sure to shop around before you buy.
- American Psychological Association: Marriage and Divorce
- CNN: Dating After Divorce
- Trustify: Five Ways to Find Out If Someone is Married
- National Center for Health Statistics: Where to Write for Vital Records
- Marriage Records Search: How to Find Out if Someone is Married
- Info Tracer: Search Marriage Records
- Angie’s List: Private Investigator Service
A former corporate real estate lawyer, Jayne Thompson writes about law, business and personal finance, drawing on 17 years’ experience in the legal sector. She holds a Bachelor of Laws from the University of Birmingham and a Masters in International Law from the University of East London. Her work has appeared on numerous legal blogs including Quittance, Upcounsel and Medical Negligence Experts. Find her at www.whiterosecopywriting.com.