You connected on an online dating site, and an initial meet for coffee turns into dinner, and a few weeks later you are beginning to fall head over heels. But something’s a bit off. Text replies come only late at night or early in the morning. Plans are often rescheduled, followed by delayed arrivals and vague explanations.
You don’t want to admit it, but you suspect this person is married. So how do you find out for sure?
Are marriage records public information?
Yes, they are. One of the best ways to answer the question, “How can I find out if someone is married?,” is to search for a marriage certificate. The good news is you may do so easily by searching through public records.
The bad news is this differs from state-to-state: Some states have marriage records online, others require you to go in person to request access.
How do I look up marriage records?
Key to getting your search for marriage records off to a good start is trying to narrow down potential states and counties where the marriage may have taken place.
Liz Brock, a New York private investigator with Root Investigations, Brock suggests that you start with an online search. “You can search for the state, plus ‘marriage records’,” she said. “You should be able to determine if marriage certificates are made public.”
You can also find someone’s marital status by searching through the CDC’s website to see how your state handles vital records. In some cases you can check your state’s Department of Health and Human Services website or by writing in to request a marriage certificate.
Another good site to begin your research: the National Association of Counties website has links to counties across the country, which you can use to begin searching county records where the marriage likely occurred.
What key info do I need to find marital records?
To ensure that you’ll be able to find marriage records for someone, you’ll need the following information:
- Full names of bride and groom (both are ideal).
- Where the couple got married (think state, county, or city).
- The date of marriage.
- Any other relevant contact information such as a telephone number.
If you don’t have this information, you may be out of luck. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t other ways to find out if someone is married.
Other ways to check a person’s marital status
Of course, you can hire a private detective to scope out the situation for you. However, that can be pricey and take a good amount of time.
In many cases, doing a simple online search may be able to yield results. Start by searching for their full name and click on any images, social media profiles or websites you think are relevant. What turns up may surprise you. In images and social media profiles, look for any signs they’re together with someone else.
Other options include using people search tools instead of looking through public records. Enter their name and state of residence and you may uncover information about a person you missed during your online search, including associated phone numbers and email addresses.
Clues someone may be married
Of course, you can always ask directly. But as it’s still early days, you may be afraid to appear paranoid. Brock recommends writing a list of reasons why you suspect this person is married, and then stand back and see if it adds up.
If you want to check for yourself first, here are some clues that someone may be married:
- “Fake” online profiles. Doing a sweep of social media is a good start for clues. Yet sometimes people create fake profiles, said Brock. “Fake profiles can include real photos but with fake friends and fake name,” she said. “Often, cheaters create one or two profiles where one is a duplicate page under a false name.” So how do you know if that online profile you connected over was fake? One hack is to search their profile photo to see if it shows up on other websites. If you’re seeing your new love’s face with a profile that doesn’t match who you know, that’s a big red flag.
- Erratic schedule. You can only contact this person during odd hours or by scheduling times to meet at specific points of the day. Or when you try to contact them and your calls or texts are blocked or completely ignored, this can be a red flag.
- A wedding band. A classic tell: If you spot a ring (perhaps your date forgot to take it off) or a tan line on their ring finger, that’s a huge warning sign.
- Meeting at odd locations. You never meet in busy places like a trendy restaurant, or when you do, it’s in the back such as a private room. Or you’ll only meet out of town or at a hotel.
- No invites to their place. If you don’t know where this person lives or they have never invited you to their home, it could be a red flag. Even more so if you’ve asked, yet a trip to their place never materializes.
- Pays with cash only. There’s nothing wrong with paying for things in cash, but most people tend to use different options throughout the time you know them—credit cards, Venmo, debit cards and cash. If every single encounter with your date is paid for in cash, that could be a warning sign. Not having a paper trail that comes with credit or debit card transactions could mean that your love interest doesn’t want someone else to see where they’ve been.
- Strange phone behaviors. Cheaters are often very secretive about their phones. For example, he or she may not answer phone calls, or tilt their screen away from you when checking a text message. The phone number may also be a secondary number—a private investigator or a reverse phone search may help you determine if they have more than one phone number under their name.
- No known friends or family members. Have you met your partner’s friends and family yet? Not meeting family members isn’t a huge no-no depending on how long you’ve been dating and where they live. But, if you’ve never heard any mention of friends or met at least one of them, be suspicious.
Trust is important in starting a relationship, but if your gut feeling suggests something is amiss, trying to get to the bottom of someone’s marriage status may help put those feelings to rest.