Does My Husband Criminal Record Affect Me? Check These 3 Laws

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Criminal Records | April 30, 2024

Woman standing next to her newlywed husband asks does my husband's criminal record affect me while standing in front of a house and looking at her husband’s criminal record and wondering does a background check show family members?

Does my husband criminal record affect me? Does it matter if a person’s significant other has a criminal record?

On a personal level, someone’s criminal past doesn’t matter, but there are certain laws that impact married couples, and knowing them can help couples make decisions.

Although most of the time, a person’s criminal record only impacts them, there are additional situations that can be influenced by a spouses criminal record.

This complete guide answers the question, does my husband’s criminal record affect me, and how to overcome the challenges that are associated with a significant other’s criminal past.

Does My Husband Criminal Record Affect Me? 3 Laws to Understand

When asking, does my husband criminal record affect me, spouses should know that in one way or another it will have an impact.

The first thing to do is to conduct a full background check on your spouse, to ensure that the information is correct.

The extent of the impact will range dramatically based on factors such as the state the individuals live in if children are involved, the type of crime, living arrangements, and more. The important thing to remember is that when it comes to how will marrying a felon affect me, the actual legal impact is fairly minimal and most of the effects will be more indirect.

There are specific laws that impact married couples. These three are the most common:

Law #1: 42 U.S.C. 671(a)(20)

The law provides that prospective foster or adoptive parents must undergo a criminal background check and a fingerprint-based FBI criminal history record check before they are allowed to take custody of a child.

It also requires that all adults living in the home where the child will reside must be included in the background check.

What it means:

This means that if a married couple wants to adopt a child or become foster parents, each person’s criminal record is examined.

Law #2: 22 CFR § 51.60

This law allows the Department of State to deny passport applications of U.S. citizens who are registered sex offenders, who have active warrants of arrest or outstanding deportation orders.

What It Means:

This means if a person’s husband is a registered sex offender, or is wanted by the courts, that individual will not be able to travel out of the U.S.

Law #3: 8 CFR § 217.2

This law provides the eligibility requirements related to the Visa Waiver Program. The program allows citizens from 40 countries across the world to enter United States territory without visas. In return, U.S. citizens may enter their territories visa-free.

However, this is not always the case, there may be instances where a husband with a criminal record may be denied entry into certain countries.

What It Means:

Generally, entry of U.S. citizens with felony conviction/s will be easy in visa-free countries like Italy, Curacao, Malaysia, South Africa, and Chile. However, for countries that require a visa before boarding a flight —like China and India—a husband with a criminal record will or may not be allowed entry.

Most countries won’t conduct a background check on applicants. However, some would ask for a declaration of criminal conduct upon application. For example, according to the Migration Act 1958 in Australia, a visitor must meet the character requirements to be granted a visa.

However, a criminal conviction will not result in an automatic denial of a visa application. Australian travel authorities can take into account all other information surrounding the case and can still grant visas to convicted felons as long as they are truthful with their answer in the application and can comply with all the supplementary documents the authorities request.

Similar to the question of, does a criminal record ruin your life, the impact of a criminal record on a spouse is largely determined by the individual themselves. One of the biggest impacts that individuals are often concerned with is the social impact that comes from a stigma surrounding those who have been convicted of a crime.

Screenshot of Federal Bureau of Prisons website page for UNICOR with yellow arrow on the program benefits for ex-convicts.

There are many non-profit organizations dedicated to helping former convicts rebuild their lives, and using an agency or outreach service can help reduce the impact of indirect challenges faced by spouses of former felons.

Obviously, this will vary and is an indirect impact but is still something that individuals should be concerned with.

With all that being said there are a handful of disadvantages of marrying a convicted felon that is more concrete that individuals will want to know about.

Unwritten Laws That Impact Someone Married to a Former Convict

In addition to the legal codes outlined above, there are unwritten laws that impact the spouse of a former convict.

A criminal record can make it more difficult to find professional employment, obtain housing, or garner the means for self defense.

Although technically your husband’s criminal record will only impact him, the indirect consequences can be wide reaching.

Marrying Someone With a Criminal Record: Does My Husband Criminal Record Affect Me?

Marrying someone with a criminal record does not require any additional steps or paperwork when it comes to the marriage itself. It’s important to note that many of the issues that face those married to someone with a criminal record apply to ex-convict and relationship of a romantic nature that doesn’t involve marriage.

The disadvantages of having a criminal record are very similar to the disadvantages of marrying or dating someone with a criminal record. The biggest and most prevalent issue for most individuals is how to clear a background check.

Individuals with criminal records will have a lot more difficulty passing pre-employment background checks and finding suitable work. The same is true for a tenant background check as well as landlords are able to deny individuals with felony records.1

One of the most common questions asked by those that are involved with individuals with criminal records is can I lose custody of my child for marrying a felon, individuals should know that this is a very real possibility. The best interests of the child are the main thing that is considered in custody cases and having a felon around the child might be deemed as not in the child’s best interest.2</sup\

Travel can also be an issue for individuals with criminal records. Although convicted felons are generally able to get passports, when it comes to getting a spouse visa, criminal record will often affect their ability to get visas to certain countries.

How Does a Criminal Record Affect Your Life?

Many individuals who are wondering does my husband’s criminal record affect me, may be unfamiliar with the long-term effects of a criminal record at all. So, how does a criminal record affect your life?

As mentioned, one of the biggest differences with life after criminal record is the ability to pass background checks. This will heavily affect the individual’s ability to get certain jobs and leave people asking how does having a criminal record affect employment.

Basically, every employer will decide on their own policy of hiring individuals with criminal records and some employers will simply choose not to.

There are also numerous laws regarding those with certain criminal convictions from working in certain industries, so a criminal conviction may permanently prevent them from landing jobs like being a teacher or anything involving child care.3

Aside from employment, when it comes to how does having a criminal record affect your future, aside from limiting employment and housing opportunities, it can also affect an individual’s availability to get a travel visa, get into college, and their ability to start their own business and more. For example, some individuals might have their I-130 denied for criminal record,4 which can make it more difficult for a relative to obtain a green card.

Screenshot of U.S. Department of Homeland Security website page for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services with yellow arrows on Form I-130: Petition for Alien Relative.

Felons can have difficulties obtaining permanent resident cards in the United States.

Another common question asked by those with criminal records is, can you be a cop with a criminal record, as well as similar questions like, can you be a police officer if your family have criminal records?

Generally, the background check that is run on individuals interested in entering law enforcement will be examined on a case-by-case basis. In this situation, the same rules apply as they do for most jobs: the more serious the convictions, the less likely they are to overlook the individual’s criminal record.

As far as family members with criminal records are concerned, their effects on entering law enforcement should be minimal or non-existent in most cases.

Individuals should educate themselves on their local criminal record laws as every state is different, but many of the long-term impacts of a criminal record can be surprising. Some of the more common questions are addressed below.

What Shows Up on a Criminal Background Check?

Perhaps the most common question that is asked in regards to background checks is, what shows up on a criminal background check, luckily the answer is fairly simple.

A criminal background check will generally include any and all criminal history information that is available on an individual, which is usually obtained through court records that have the individual’s name on them.

Screenshot of State of California website page for Department of Justice with yellow arrows on criminal history information in public records.

Legal statues make criminal records public information, especially concerning sex offender data.

Keep in mind that there is a slight difference between a criminal background check or criminal history check and a general background check.5

A criminal history check is usually part of a background check but background checks can also involve reference checks, education verification, social media profiles, and more.

Some of the more common questions about the way background checks work and what is likely to show up are discussed below.

Does a Background Check Show Family Members?

Many online background check companies will find tons of data on individuals such as addresses, phone numbers, and the names of family members. However, a typical pre-employment check will not be interested in this kind of information.

What Comes Up on a Background Check for a Job?

A background check for a job will include the following information at a minimum: Local criminal history check, and identity verification.6

Beyond this many jobs will check the individual’s employment and education history as well as sex offender registries.7

Do Arrests Without Conviction Show Up on Background Check?

Most individuals are wondering, do arrests without conviction appear on background checks?

A background check will uncover all criminal court documents so if criminal charges were filed then this information will appear on a background check.

However, if the arrest did not result in charges it will not show up on most background checks.

Do Background Checks Show Pending Charges?

Anything that has been filed in criminal court will appear on a background check including criminal cases and some pending charges, if the charges are filed.

If You Do a Background Check on Someone Will They Find Out?

Individuals can use online background check services without the individual finding out.

Background checks that are used for official purposes such as for a lease or pre-employment check are required by the FCRA to obtain the individual’s written permission.8

Do Background Checks Show Misdemeanors?

When asking do background checks show misdemeanors, the answer is yes.

Background checks will show any charge or conviction the individual has received, regardless of the level of the crime.

How To Tell if Your Background Has Been Checked

There is no way to determine if someone has performed a “personal” background check on you in most cases.

Any background checks performed for professional reasons must obtain the person’s consent.

Premarital Background Check

Performing a premarital background check on someone is something that every individual should at least consider, even those not concerned with questions like, does my husband’s criminal record affect me?

Individuals can use the information below to perform the best background check possible for their unique situation.

What Do You Need for a Background Check?

Many people will be wondering, what you need for a background check, and might be surprised to find you hardly need anything at all. Most online background checks will only require the individual’s first and last name, however, knowing where they live can often help narrow the results.

Is There a Free Criminal Background Check?

Background checks require court records, which involve a fee. When it comes to getting a free criminal background check, the best thing individuals can do is to find an online background check service that offers a 7-day free trial background check that they can take advantage of.

How To Get a Criminal Background Check

Those wanting to know how to obtain a criminal background check should know there are several options available. When it comes to performing a check on someone else, going with a private service is likely the best option.

Individuals can use the search bar at the top of this page to perform a background check on someone using only the individual’s name.

One-Time Background Check

Getting a one-time background check on someone is often better than performing multiple checks using court records. Almost all online background check services can be considered a one-time check as they will check local and national criminal history information so it is fairly unlikely for anything to get missed.

Does Your Spouse Show Up on a Background Check?

An individual spouse is fairly likely to show up on an online background check. This is due to information found on social media profiles as well as tax and property records that might contain the names of both individuals.

Criminal Record Ruined My Life, Can I Get Rid of My Record?

Many individuals might be familiar with the sentiment: my criminal record ruined my life and might be wondering what options they have if any. Although a criminal record can have a significant impact on an individual’s life, there are a few things that individuals can do to help minimize the long-term effects.

Screenshot of U.S. Department of Justice website page for NIJ with yellow arrows on expungement of criminal records to prevent it to become a barrier for reentry to society.

Expungement options (when available) are used to clean up a background check and remove criminal records from public view.

The first is to see if getting the records sealed or expunged is possible. This is a great way to minimize the effects of the conviction as employers and landlords running background checks on the individual will not be able to see records that have been sealed or expunged.

Although expungement is ideal as it essentially allows the record to be destroyed, sealing the records is the much more likely option. Sealed records will shield the records from public view, but official agencies will still have access to them.

The record sealing process is different in every state so individuals will need to research the laws in their state to see if automatic sealing or automatic expungement of criminal records is offered.

Is Restraining Order Public Record?

Many individuals will be concerned about restraining order records when it comes to their spouse’s criminal record, but is a restraining order public record? Surprisingly, the answer is usually no.

Most restraining orders are filed in civil court and since civil court records are almost always sealed to protect the individual’s privacy, the record of a restraining order will be sealed as well.

How To Find Bankruptcies on Public Records

Those wondering how to find bankruptcies on public records in order to get an idea of their potential spouse’s financial standings will need to access the US courts PACER system.9

Screenshot of Federal Judiciary website page for United States Courts with yellow arrow on bankruptcy filings.

Bankruptcies are public record and can be found using the county court clerk system where the court documents were filed.

Individuals can find bankruptcy records by performing a search of the individual’s name.

Public Records Bankruptcies Free

Individuals hoping to find public records bankruptcies free will be disappointed to find that using the PACER system does require a small fee. However, the fee will not exceed $3.00 per document so the cost is extremely low.

When asking, does my husband criminal record affect me, individuals should familiarize themselves with the way a criminal record affects the individual who committed the crime to get a better understanding of how this could play a role in their life.

Individuals should always know what they are getting into when it comes to getting married. Running a background check on your spouse is a great way to answer questions like does my husband criminal record affect me?

Frequently Asked Questions About Does My Husband Criminal Record Affect Me

What Are the Disadvantages of Marrying an Inmate?

The potential financial strain is one of the biggest advantages of marrying an inmate as job and housing opportunities for individuals with criminal records are severely reduced.

Can a Child Live With a Convicted Felon?

Although a criminal record will be a factor, custody is determined by the environment the child will be in, so a criminal record will just be one of many factors.

My Daughter Is Dating a Felon, What Should I Do?

Individuals can use an online background check service to find more detailed information about someone’s criminal history.

What Are the Consequences of Marrying a Felon?

There are a few consequences to marrying a felon. The biggest impact will be financial strain due to it being difficult for felons to find work in many cases.

Can I Marry an Immigrant if I Have a Felony?

It is legal to marry an immigrant if you have a felony, however obtaining a green card for the immigrant can be difficult in this situation.

Can I Join the Police if My Father Has a Criminal Record?

The criminal records of the individual’s parents will have little impact on their ability to become a police officer.

How Does Being a Police Officer Affect Your Family?

The effects of being a police officer on family vary but individuals can learn more about the common effects it has on family members from the Department of Justice.11

Can a Convicted Felon Live With a Police Officer?

Although law enforcement is discouraged from associating with felons, there are usually exemptions for family members.

What Disqualifies You From Being a Police Officer?

The disqualifications for being a police officer vary but having any kind of criminal record will generally increase the chances of being disqualified.

Can Police Officers Associate With Felons?

Although they are often allowed to, associating with felons is often heavily discouraged.

When Someone Does a Background Check on You What Shows Up?

Generally, criminal history information and any court records will appear on a background check as well as social media profiles, addresses, and property records.

What Is a Security Clearance Spouse Check?

Those who are undergoing a security clearance check will likely have their spouse checked as well as part of the investigation.

How Can a Criminal Record Affect Your Future Essay?

Criminal records will have the biggest impacts on the individual’s ability to find employment, however there are many long term affects of having a criminal record.

Is Your Criminal Record Cleared After 10 Years?

No, only in certain states will prevent criminal history information older than 10 years from appearing on a background check.

What Is the Effect of Criminal Records on Access to Employment?

Many employers will make it a company policy to not hire individuals with certain criminal records and certain industries are required by law to deny individuals with certain records.

Can I Have a Convicted Felon Around My Child?

Having a convicted felon around your child can sometimes affect child custody, especially if there is an existing custody agreement in place, such as with an ex-spouse.

Does My Parents Criminal Record Affect Me?

A parents criminal record will have a fairly minimal effect on a child from a legal standpoint.


1Cornell Law School. (2023). Landlord-Tenant Law. Legal Information Institute. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

2U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021, September 01). Determining the Best Interests of the Child. Child Welfare Information Gateway. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <> (2023). Background Checks: What You Need To Know. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

4U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2022, December 23). I-130, Petition for Alien Relative. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

5FTC. (2021, November). Employer Background Checks and Your Rights. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

6Social Security Administration. (2016, October 20). The Social Security Number Verification Service. Social Security. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

7U.S. Department of Justice. (2023). National Sex Offender Public Website Homepage. National Sex Offender Public Website. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

8FTC. (2022, October 27). Fair Credit Reporting Act. Federal Trade Commission. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

9Federal Judiciary. (2023). Find a Case (PACER). United States Courts. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

10U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2022, November 03). Frequently Asked Questions. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

11U.S. Department of Justice. (2019, June). Parenting while Policing. Community Policing Dispatch. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

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