Some divorces epitomize the concept of conscious uncoupling. These splits are filled with love, respect, and hope for a fulfilling future for both parties. Unfortunately, not every separation is a smooth one.
If you’re going through a bitter divorce, you may need all of the help you can get in making a clean and permanent break, and if you have children, the stakes may be even higher. Background checks can be a helpful tool in obtaining information on your spouse that may be crucial in gaining or maintaining the custody of your kids, receiving the property or financial assets you’re entitled to, or simply ending the proceedings as quickly as possible.
In general, a background check of this nature includes information regarding:
- Criminal records
- Traffic violations resulting in an arrest warrant
- Sex offender status
- Social media accounts
So, how will each of these reports help you? In addition to being helpful to your overall case, each component offers its own unique benefits, depending on your situation. Our guide discusses what information you can expect when you run a background check on your partner when you’re going through a divorce, and how each can play a role in helping you get through the process on your own terms.
Keep in mind that running a background check when you’re going through a divorce isn’t the right option for everyone. If your relationship with your ex is civil, and you don’t think he or she hid anything during your marriage or subsequent split, carefully consider whether you want to run a background check.
Criminal convictions where your partner was charged as an adult will show up on a background check. This type of report will not only tell you about the charges and convictions your spouse has, but you may also learn about any other aliases they have used.
It’s important to know if your ex has a criminal past for several reasons. First, depending on the nature of the crime and the time served, it may indicate that they should not spend unsupervised — or any — time with your children. If you learn they have any past or present aliases, you may be able to uncover other assets that you’re entitled to.
Criminal records related to drug or alcohol use are also important considerations during divorce proceedings, especially if there is a pattern indicating substance abuse that your ex hasn’t received treatment for. While addiction is widely regarded as a health condition, failure to seek treatment for it — especially when combined with criminal behavior as a result of it — might be considered an act of negligence in a court room.
Traffic violations resulting in an arrest warrant
Minor traffic violations that were resolved without issue usually don’t appear on background checks. However, those that weren’t addressed and ultimately led to an arrest warrant do. This type of information is useful because it constitutes criminal activity, and while not every violation that falls under this umbrella will indicate someone who is violent, it’s information worth knowing.
For example, if your former spouse had (or has) a warrant issued for having multiple unpaid speeding tickets that were issued within a short period of time — especially if it was recently — this may indicate they’re not only unfit to drive your children, but also irresponsible in general. That quality doesn’t paint a positive picture of people in divorce court.
Sex offender status
Being a registered sex offender is a very serious situation, especially if your ex hid this fact during your marriage. This will be an especially important consideration if you have children or you’ve been a victim of sexual violence by your partner.
If your spouse turns up on a sex offender registry and you want to present this information during your divorce proceedings, be sure to have as many supporting details as possible. Your background check provider may be able to handle this task for you, or you may be able to search for the public court records on your own, depending on where you live and where the crime took place.
Social media accounts
Social media has opened up possibilities for people to be dishonest about who they are and lead a double life. Some shady spouses set up accounts to meet people without their partner knowing, and many are even foolish enough to use their real email address when doing so, meaning they can be found during a background check. If you’re concerned about infidelity, having proof of accounts that were created without your knowledge can give you an edge in court.
Accounts on actual dating websites may not appear with a general social media check. Speak with the company providing your background check about how to search for these individually.
No one gets married hoping it will end bitterly someday, but unfortunately, it does happen. A background check can help you build a case against your spouse so you can move forward and begin the next chapter of your life.