Marrying Someone With a Criminal Record? Not Before Doing This

Background check repair icon.Written by Background Check Repair

Criminal Records | April 30, 2024

Man and woman getting married with a criminal record beside them as they wonder who will marrying someone with a criminal record affect me?

Considering marrying someone with a criminal record? Don’t do it until you’ve run a complete criminal background check on them.

This will ensure that there’s no surprises after the knot’s been tied.

But, there are other considerations as well, before marrying someone with a criminal record.

Knowing how that person’s record will impact your living arrangements, child custody, and other factors can help, because certain criminal records follow a person around for their entire life.

This complete guide outlines how to check a person’s full criminal record as well as many drawbacks and challenges to overcome.

Impact of Marrying Someone With a Criminal Record

There are plenty of misconceptions out there regarding marrying someone with a criminal record. Many individuals might have questions like, can a convicted felon get married, after hearing that felons lose certain rights even after they have completed their sentences.

Fortunately, felons and anyone who has a criminal record is free to get married and the negative impacts on their life are often not quite as severe as many people think.

This also applies to individuals that are in a relationship or considering marrying someone with a criminal record, although there are a few exceptions that individuals should be aware of, unless the individual has been convicted of a serious crime like rape or drug trafficking,1,2 the effects of their record on your day to day life will be fairly minimal.

With that being said, although there are only a few long-term effects, some of these will have a greater impact on a person’s life. For example, many people might be wondering, what are the effects of having a convicted felon around my child, while someone without children will not be concerned with this at all.

Screenshot of State of Hawaii website page for Hawaii Criminal Justice Data Center with yellow arrow on criminal history record check.

Every state offers a criminal history check that can be performed using a person’s name, and usually a birthday.

There are three things that individuals should do before marrying a felon so that they can be fully aware and prepared for what it entails.

  • Learn how to find out if someone has a criminal record, and check the record of your potential spouse.
  • Learn about, how a criminal record affects your life, both in the short term and long term.
  • Learn about what happens if you marry someone with a criminal record.

Individuals who have an understanding of the above three points will be able to make an informed decision based on their unique situations. Not all criminal records will have the same repercussions and things like the state you live in, living arrangements, and long-term goals should all come into play when it comes time to make the final decision.

Does My Husband Criminal Record Affect Me?

Ex-convict and relationship problems of a legal nature are fairly common. Although not all of the consequences of having a criminal record will automatically transfer to the individual’s spouse, when it comes to, does my husband criminal record affect me, it absolutely will.

As mentioned, many of the effects of marrying someone with a criminal record will come indirectly. However, the extent of the impact will vary from person to person based on lifestyle and the crime that was committed.

Keep in mind that not all of the consequences will be of a legal nature, in fact very few of them are. Many of the issues that individuals who are married to felons face are social and economic difficulties.

Screenshot of State of New Jersey website page for ex-offender services with yellow arrow on removing barriers to employment.

Most states provide services for former criminal offenders, to find housing and employment.

In order to understand how your partner’s criminal record will affect you, individuals should first familiarize themselves with the way a criminal record affects the life of the individual with the record.

Does My Wife’s Criminal Record Affect Me?

Those wondering does my wife’s criminal record affect me, are likely not fully aware of the impacts of a criminal record at all. Although there are only a few lasting effects that follow someone with a criminal record, many of these can impact day-to-day life quite a bit for these individuals.

Obviously, the gender of the individual with the criminal record will not play any part in the legal ramifications of being convicted of a crime, however, there are different stigmas associated with marrying a female felon vs a male felon. What will play a major role in the impacts of a criminal record will be the record itself, specifically what crimes the individual was convicted of.

To understand this impact the first thing individuals will need to do is run a marriage background check on their partner.

Premarital Background Check Before Marrying Someone With a Criminal Record

Even for individuals who do not suspect their partners are trying to hide their criminal record, running a premarital background check is so easy that it’s something everyone should at least consider.

These days background checks can be performed from the comfort of your home in just a few minutes.

Screenshot of State of Michigan website page for sex offender registry with yellow arrow on sex offender name search.

Every state, and the federal government, maintains a sex offender registry which can be searched by name.

A premarital background check is mostly a marketing term used by background check agencies that offer background check services specifically aimed at those checking someone they know intimately, rather than a neighbor or coworker.

These checks will usually include a national criminal history check, sex offender registry check,3 social media background check, and a public records check which can reveal things like bankruptcies.

How To Get a Criminal Background Check

There are a few different ways to get a criminal background check on their spouse.

The easiest method for most individuals is to use the search bar at the top of this page to run a background check using the individual’s name and the city they live in. This will uncover public records relating to the individual such as tax and property records and most importantly criminal records.

Individuals can also use other online background check services to perform this check, as most online background services will operate very similarly. Keep in mind that most background check services require a month-long subscription to be purchased, even for individuals who are only interested in running a single check.

Those looking for a free criminal background check will likely need to rely on a background check service that offers a 7-day free trial background check.

Screenshot of State of Nebraska website page for background checks with yellow arrow on court case searches.

In addition to a law enforcement background check, court records are public and can be used to find out criminal records on a person.

While the background check service will be able to provide some of the basic information such as when, where, and what crime the individual was convicted of, in order to find out specific details of the case individuals will need to contact the court clerk of the court where the case was filed.

These records will have more detailed information about the case and the sentencing the individual received.

Individuals who are dating someone with a criminal record will likely have several questions about what shows up and what doesn’t show up on a background check.

Generally, background checks will be able to uncover anything that is public, whether it be a public record or something that is on a public website like Facebook. However, although family and civil court records are technically public under the Freedom of Information Act,4 they are often sealed making them invisible to someone performing a background check.

This may not seem like a big deal but it does mean rather important information can be absent from a background check.

For example, many people have the question, Is restraining order public record, although they technically should be, they are often filed in civil court which means that they would be sealed and thus the individual performing the search will have no way of knowing if their spouse has ever had a restraining order filed against them.

Another common question is, does your spouse show up on a background check, although they won’t show up on a pre-employment background check, since most private companies run social media and tax record checks, then the spouse is fairly likely to appear on these kinds of checks.

Does My Parent’s Criminal Record Affect Me?

After hearing about how a spouse’s record can affect them, many people will be wondering, does my parent’s criminal record affect me? The criminal record of a family member is fairly unlikely to have much of an effect on most individuals.

The only effects would be related to simply associating with someone with a criminal record at all, but family members will not have a greater impact than someone unrelated.

How Will Marrying a Felon Affect Me?

Now that individuals can figure out what their partner’s criminal history looks like, the next question to answer is how will marrying a felon affect me.

The best way to answer this is to understand how does a criminal record affect your life.


Perhaps the biggest and most prevalent effect that a criminal record will have on someone’s life once they have served their sentence is their record’s impact on their ability to find work. Almost every employer performs background checks on all applicants in order to ensure that the workplace remains safe and to limit potential financial liabilities.

Although what companies looks for in a background check varies, the fact remains that many employers will not hire individuals with certain criminal records or even individuals that have a criminal record at all.

Besides company policy being an issue to overcome, certain industries such as the daycare industry are legally required to deny individuals with certain criminal records.5 This means that individuals convicted of certain crimes such as violent felonies, will not be able to be a teacher or hold a variety of other jobs with strict criminal record requirements.

With so many obstacles to overcome, finding reasonable employment can be extremely difficult for individuals with criminal records. This can of course lead to financial troubles and is likely the most common impact that a criminal record has on the individual’s spouse.


Besides employment issues, one of the other notable disadvantages of marrying a convicted felon is the effect a criminal record has on finding housing.

Most landlords may perform tenant background checks on lease applicants that will examine the individual’s criminal history. This can be a burden for individuals with violent criminal records as the odds of being denied due to this record are extremely likely.


Perhaps the most common and pressing question for many people who are in a relationship with a felon is, can a child live with a convicted felon, and the answer might be disappointing.

Legally, a child can live with a felon, however, the main issue is the concept of the child’s best interest which can heavily affect the custody of the child.6 Individuals who are already in custody disputes might find themselves losing custody since it could be argued that having a child around a violent felon is not in the child’s best interest.

Screenshot of Georgia Government website page for Department of Community Supervision with yellow arrow on sex offender special conditions of supervision.

Each state has its own legal requirements regarding sex offenders and conditions of their release, which can impact custody for someone who is considering marrying a felon.

Obviously, this is a case-by-case basis, however when it comes to, whether can I lose custody of my child for marrying a felon, the answer is yes.


Having a criminal record can also affect an individual’s ability to start their own business as business licenses can be denied based on the individual’s criminal history.


Individuals considering international travel with someone that has a criminal record should know that this can also be affected in a few ways. Although only individuals convicted of drug trafficking charges are automatically disqualified from obtaining a passport, many foreign countries will have entry requirements that prevent individuals with certain criminal records from entering the country.

Individuals who were recently incarcerated and are still on parole or probation will not be able to obtain a passport until their parole or probation has been served. Although this may be only a short-term issue, those convicted of serious crimes can sometimes be on parole for years or even for life.


Similarly to being denied entry to a country due to a criminal record, many countries will deny work or travel visas to individuals with certain criminal histories. Even countries that do not normally perform criminal history checks on visitors will often check the records of those applying for a visa.

The checks are often performed through the FBI or INTERPOL so there is generally no way of hiding your criminal history from a foreign nation.7,8


An individual’s criminal history can also affect their ability to help family members or even their spouse a green card to live in the United States. This will be discussed in detail further down.

Security Clearance Married to Felon

Although it does not concern everyone, it is also worth mentioning that individuals undergoing a security clearance background check can expect to have their spouse’s record investigated as well, which can affect their ability to be granted security clearance if the investigation finds the individual’s spouse has been charged with certain crimes.

Dating a Felon

Although most individuals are concerned with marriage when asking, does my partner’s criminal record affect me, dating a felon can have some of the same effects.

As mentioned, one of the more notable disadvantages of having a criminal record is the effect on child custody which will have an effect even if the two individuals are not actually married. This in particular will have a big impact on the question of, whether would you date someone with a criminal record, for many individuals.

Screenshot of NY Courts website page for criminal history record search with yellow arrow on on-line direct access to criminal records.

By searching online court records, you can find out whether a person was convicted of a felony before, or other information that might have been withheld.

Individuals might find they only suspect their partner has a criminal record after seeing some of the signs you’re dating a criminal. Those in this situation should run a background check on the individual as soon as possible, especially if child custody is a stake.

The pros and cons of dating an ex-convict are something that individuals will need to decide for themselves. Remember, not all criminal records are the same and many of the negative impacts of having a criminal record will not apply to individuals who have only been convicted of low-level misdemeanors.

Criminal Records and Immigration

The issues surrounding criminal records and immigration can seem fairly complicated. However, individuals can get a good idea of the effects by understanding a few basic issues on the subject.

One of the most common issues is for those hoping to get a green card for their spouse which leads people to ask, can I sponsor my spouse if I have a criminal record USA? The short answer is that it will depend on the crime that the individual has been convicted of.

The Adam Walsh Act outlines the crimes that will prevent an individual from sponsoring someone’s green card,9 most of which are related to sex crimes and crimes against children.

I-130 Denied for Criminal Record

Many people will find their I-130 denied for criminal record reasons. This happens when the sponsor of an individual seeking a green card has something on their criminal record that prevents them from being allowed to sponsor an individual.

Individuals can read more on the subject on the USCIS website.10

Some individuals might be surprised by this since the record that caused this was expunged and will be wondering, can immigration look at your expunged record? Federal agencies are able to view an individual’s entire record, even records that have been sealed or expunged.

When it comes to, whether can I petition my wife if I have a felony, the answer is yes but it’s important to research which crimes will prevent this from being possible.

K1 Visa Petitioner Criminal Record

So, does criminal record affect immigration?

Individuals should know that the K1 Visa petitioner’s criminal record will have an effect on immigration. In many cases, certain criminal records will be grounds for inadmissibility.

Screenshot of U.S. Department of State website page for U.S. Visas with yellow arrow on K-1: Nonimmigrant Visa for a fianc(é)e.

Most former convicts may obtain a passport, but whether or not they are able to obtain a Visa to travel to other countries depends on the conditions and requirements outlined by that country.

Although those wondering, if can i sponsor someone if I have a criminal record, should know it’s possible, it will depend on the nature of the records.

I-485 Denied for Criminal Record

Some people might find their I-485 denied for criminal record, and will be wondering what options they have. When it comes to your spouse visa criminal record will always have an impact, especially if the crimes are serious.

Although the answer to can I marry an immigrant if I have a felony, is yes, this does not guarantee the spouse a green card.

Criminal Records Statistics

Although finding out that your spouse has been convicted of a crime can be jarring, it’s important to understand some of the criminal records statistics in the US.11 After looking at the data provided by the DOJ, it’s clear that a lot more people have criminal records than many individuals realize.

Besides knowing the general crime statistics it’s also important to understand high-risk situations such as domestic abuse prior criminal record statistics which show that many individuals who have been arrested for domestic violence have a history of their criminal activity escalating,12 which can be a dangerous situation for their partner.

Although many people will be in a situation where they feel “my criminal record ruined my life,” many individuals are able to live fairly normal lives after their sentence has been completed.

There is a lot to consider for those thinking about marrying someone with a criminal record and the first step is to figure out what crimes they have committed in order to make an informed decision.

Frequently Asked Questions About Marrying Someone With a Criminal Record

What Are the Steps on How To Find Someone’s Criminal Record?

Individuals can perform a background check on anyone using the search bar at the top of this page.

What if I Found Out Boyfriend Has Criminal Record, What Should I Do?

Individuals should run a background check on their partner to find out what crimes they have been charged or convicted of.

What Are the Consequences of Marrying a Felon?

The biggest consequences to marrying a felon involve social stigmas and financial troubles due to a limited job market for those with criminal records, but a felon can also impact custody rights and adoption availability.

Does a Criminal Record Ruin Your Life?

Criminal records will impact an individual’s life in a number of ways. However simply having a criminal record will not always have a major impact on the individuals day to day life.

Can a Doctor Marry a Felon?

Marrying a felon should not impact an individual’s medical license.

Can a Felon Date a Felon?

Yes, unless conditions of their probation or parole prohibit this activity.

Can a Lawyer Be Married to a Felon?

Being married to a felon should not affect BAR qualifications.

Can Someone on Social Security Sponsor an Immigrant?

Although possible, financial standing is one of the biggest factors in an individuals ability to sponsor an immigrant.

Can Felons Get Married?

Yes, felons are free to get married at any time.

Can a Convicted Felon Marry an Immigrant?

Yes, felons can marry immigrants but they may still face issues when it comes to obtaining a green card.

Can a Convicted Felon Sponsor an Immigrant?

Yes, as long as they have not been convicted of specific felonies outlined in the Adam Walsh Act.

Can a Felon Have Custody of a Child?

Yes, custody is determined by the child’s best interest.

What Happens if My USCIS Spouse Goes to Jail After Filing I-130?

The petitioner getting arrested in a USCIS case should not have a major impact on the individual’s ability to get a green card.


1U.S. Department of Justice. (2017, April 07). An Updated Definition of Rape. U.S. Department of Justice Archives. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

2U.S. Department of State. (2023). Drug Trafficking. U.S. Department of State. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

3U.S. Department of Justice. (2023). National Sex Offender Public Website. National Sex Offender Public Website Homepage. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

4U.S. Department of Justice. (2011, March 14). FOIA Homepage. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <> (2023). Background Checks: What You Need To Know. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

6U.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 <>

7Federal Bureau of Investigation. (2022, December 07). What We Investigate. FBI. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

8INTERPOL. (2023). INTERPOL Homepage. INTERPOL. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

9U.S. Congress. (2007, January 24). Adam Walsh Act. Department of Justice. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

10U.S. Department of Homeland Security. (2013, January 07). Chapter 3 – Evidence and the Record. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

11U.S. Department of Justice. (2023). Bureau of Justice Statistics Homepage. Bureau of Justice Statistics. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

12Piquero, A. R., Brame, R., Fagan, J., & Moffitt, T. E. (2006, July-August). Assessing the Offending Activity of Criminal Domestic Violence Suspects: Offense Specialization, Escalation, and De-Escalation Evidence from the Spouse Assault Replication Program. Public Health Reports, 121(4), 409-418. Retrieved January 04, 2023, from <>

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