Marriage Background Check: How To Find Out If Someone Is Married (Or Else)

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Background Checks | May 10, 2024

Newlywed couple standing side by side after their ceremony with a marriage background check beside them.

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Finding out if someone is married is one of the facts you can discover during a marriage background check, but not the only one. A marriage background check may also sometimes be referred to as a premarital background check.

They are becoming more common than they used to be thanks to the convenience and speed of electronic access to public marriage records and divorce public records, as well as being able to hire online investigation companies that offer partner investigation services such as:

  • free marriage license records search
  • marriage certificate search
  • simple marriage verification

What Are Marriage Background Checks?

First, it’s important to note that marriage background checks and premarital background checks refer to the same thing. There are a few different benefits to getting a background check before marriage because they can illuminate things that need to be addressed before the knot is tied.

Put another way, using a special records search for dating can help prepare you for what to expect before marriage.

The purpose isn’t to accuse our partners of any wrongdoing but to provide peace of mind for both partners after a premarital investigation is completed.

Can a Marriage Background Check Be Used To Find Out If Someone Is Married?

Yes, performing a marriage background check can be used to find out if someone is married. It can also help you find out if someone has been divorced..

An image showing a checklist with the word 'Status' at the top, and several checkboxes below labeled 'Married', 'Divorced', 'Single', and 'Widowed', with a blue pen pointing to the checkboxes.

Some couples may choose to do this out of suspicion, but there are times when you may discover something about your partner’s marriage history that even they don’t know about. An example would be if your partner thought their divorce was completed, but it wasn’t for some reason.

Finding discrepancies to be corrected is one reason why using background checks to find out if someone is married can be good for both partners.

Does Marriage Show Up on a Background Check Normally?

Yes, information like marriage does usually show up on a background check. Marriage is technically a contract bound by law and accessible in public records.

Because you have to file for a marriage license, your information will be added to public marriage records. Those records will then normally pop up on a background check.

Background Check: Marriage Reasons To Run One

There are several good reasons to run a background check on your partner before getting married. It’s a very big decision and high divorce rates seem to suggest some people may have gotten married without having all the needed information, or even by potentially being misled.

It turns out, according to a survey done by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, 43% of married couples get divorced because of incompatibility, making it the leading cause of divorce.2 Maybe some of this could be avoided by simply getting a background check before getting married.

Then there are the cases where one partner in a relationship is purposely misleading or deceiving the other. This can happen for different reasons, but background checks that include criminal records are great ways to investigate your partner if you have concerns or suspicions.

You may thank yourself if you find your partner to have a sketchy criminal past on record that they didn’t tell you about, especially if what you find out is enough for you to say “no more wedding.”

Background Check for Marriage Licenses (Previous Marriages)

Using a no-cost records search for marriage licenses, like to find out if someone has had previous marriages, serves a couple of good purposes.

First, it shows if someone has been married before. This can help you trust your partner unless you start seeing previous marriages that your partner didn’t tell you about pop up on their investigation results. That would be a red flag.

Secondly, checking marriage records for previous marriages can also uncover discrepancies that may need to be fixed. This is like we talked about earlier, where your partner might still be married “on paper” due to faulty public records and honestly not realize it.

Can You Use a Free Background Check (Marriage Status) To Dig Up Divorce Records?

Now, if you’re looking to dig up divorce records, you can use a free background check to look up marriage status. Remember that marriage is a legal contract.

Getting a divorce requires court action that results in certain public divorce records, so your divorce records could show up on a free background check.

Free Marriage License Records Searches (Public Marriage Records) Are Often Inaccurate

Do keep in mind though, that free marriage license records searches may look through public marriage records, but they aren’t always the most accurate and can sometimes be flat-out wrong, like when they confuse your partner for someone else entirely.

Furthermore, marriage licenses and divorce decrees may be handled in a court of law, but they’re still handled by people at the local level, and people make mistakes. Sometimes paperwork may get filed incorrectly, filed with incorrect information, or never even filed at all due to a system error.

Again, potential discrepancies like this are one of the top reasons for getting a background check before marriage.

What Can Happen Without Using a Background Check Before Marriage?

Discrepancies may be one of the top reasons for using a background check before marriage, but there are many other good reasons that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Knowing about your partner’s past can be beneficial for you both.

It can be especially beneficial for you if you find out your partner has been hiding something from you. Marriages should be founded on honesty, and that’s not possible if one, or even both of you, are being dishonest.

Premarital Background Checks Can Save You From Personal Disaster

There are multiple ways that premarital background checks can save you from personal disaster.

An image of two individuals in with emotional tension.

Criminal records can uncover things like:

  • Previous domestic violence
  • Substance abuse
  • Addiction problems
  • Involvement in fraudulent marriage schemes or other deceitful criminal behavior

These are all red flags you should not ignore and are often taken into consideration as potential deal-breakers for most partners.

There are too many real-life stories, some of which have been made into movies and television shows you may have seen yourself, about marriages turning into personal disasters after finding out something terrible about the partner’s past.

And to think…all that could have been avoided by completing even a basic background check before the wedding.

Marrying Someone With Bad Credit Is All Too Common

Marrying someone with bad credit and not knowing about it is more common than you might think. The same survey of married couples mentioned earlier found money problems to be the third leading cause of divorce, pointing out another reason to run a background check before getting married.

With 22% of divorces being linked to issues with money, it makes it a good idea to run at least a credit check before getting married.2 National level background checks can find more information than just local background checks, but they do require your partner’s fingerprints so they will need to be on board with the process.

Bad credit doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker, but it can be a cause to postpone marriage until your partner’s debt is paid down, which is especially true if a records search reveals tax history. It can also serve as an indicator of spending habits and general fiscal responsibility. Finding several unpaid debts, or even forced liens, for example, can be red flags to consider carefully.

How To Find Out If Someone Is Married Already to Someone Else

We’ve already talked about how marriage records can show up as part of a background check. This means finding out if someone is already married to someone else is as easy as checking public marriage records through a free marriage license records search, or by hiring your own private investigator.

Private investigators may be more accurate than a free background check for marital status. If you find out your partner is hiding a previous marriage or still married to someone else, both of these could turn into reasons to call the wedding off if severe enough.

But most people go with a third option and use a reputable online background check provider, getting results within 24 hours and often times, even in minutes.

Marriage Background Checks vs. Divorce Public Records Searches: Are They The Same?

We’ve talked a lot about marriage back checks and public divorce records. And while they may seem similar, they aren’t technically the same even though they can overlap.

You can use divorce public records searches to find out if your partner has ever been divorced. If that’s the only public records you’re looking at, then that’s all you’re going to find.

An image showing a Petition for Divorce form, with hands holding the document and a calculator visible in the background.

On the other hand, marriage background checks are most likely going to include public records of divorce, but also a lot more. The amount of information you collect and the records that are searched during a marriage background check depend on the scope of the check you decide to conduct.

It can include anything from simple identity verification, local criminal records, and marriage and divorce records, to other court records, property records, business records, and even personal reference checking.

The best choice is always to conduct a full background check to uncover anything and everything that could end up leading to a rocky marriage.

The reason for a marriage blood test is usually for health and safety. Your blood tests are considered medical records and are not available publicly. It is not included in a public marriage records search.

Getting your blood tested before getting married can be common for couples these days, and can be required for specific diseases in certain states depending on where you live. Each state has its own laws regarding premarital blood testing to identify diseases like HIV, syphilis, and sometimes rubella in women.1 With advances in modern medicine, blood tests can also provide detailed information about your genes and DNA that could impact your decision to have children.

Whether you decide a marriage background check is right for you or not, you can rest assured that it is legal for you to do. Background checks conducted by employers and financial institutions require a person’s consent and signature for all states (Texas records searches included).

Alternatively, private citizens have the legal right to perform a background check on another private citizen without their consent.

This allows you to complete a background check on your potential spouse without notifying them, and that is good news if you have any sort of strange suspicions. It’s important to remember that premarital investigations conducted by professional private investigators will be more thorough than free background searches.

For this reason, most use an online background check for a small fee (some even have free trials) to get results quickly without lots of paperwork or paying thousands of dollars to private investigators.


1Connecticut General Assembly. (2003, October 14). Aid To Dependent Children; Marriage (General). Connecticut General Assembly. Retrieved May 2, 2024, from <>

2Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts. (2024). Survey: Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) professionals Reveal the Leading Causes of Divorce. IDFA. Retrieved May 2, 2024, from <>

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