Learn More About Marriage Records

If you want to look at marriage records, you should first know what that information entails. When you look up marriage records, you may get:

A Legal Record of a Marriage Contract

Not everyone in a committed relationship obtains a marriage license. It’s definitely possible for two people to simply live together or even have a common-law marriage, but a marriage certificate brings with it a variety of legal benefits and requirements. Marriage records, of course, include information about the marriage certificate itself, which is an important legal document as well as a social one.

Married individuals legally share a number of things. For example, a couple has to declare bankruptcy together because legally the two share ownership over assets. Couples also have to file taxes declaring the marriage; in America a couple can file separately, but certain restrictions apply that don’t similarly apply to singles. That’s why the legal part of this is so important.

Information About Various Marital Agreements

If a couple agrees to certain requirements outside the bounds of a normal marriage, marriage records may reflect that fact. This usually applies only to specific things that legally make an impact on the marriage; certain non-legal agreements that the couple makes in private won’t appear in public marriage records.

A good example of this is a prenuptial agreement. Some couples sign this type of agreement when one or both have a significant amount of wealth. Essentially, a prenuptial agreement dictates that in the event of divorce, each individual will retain the initial assets with which the person entered the marriage, rather than equally splitting assets. Some agreements also have exceptions for cheating or violence.

An Overview of a Love Life

Although a marriage record won’t explicitly state this information, it’s easy for you to extrapolate the information based on the records in this category. You might have to play detective a little bit, putting the pieces together on your own, but it can be really insightful when it comes to an individual you want to know more about.

You want to pay attention to a few important details if you’re looking for this information. How many times has this person been married? How long did the marriages last on average? If there’s more than one, how long did the person wait between marriages to remarry? All of this can give you a good picture of the person in question and that person’s attitude toward marriage.

What Type of Information Can Be in Marriage Records?

Even with a knowledge of what marriage records are, that doesn’t necessarily mean you know the information present in marriage records directly. This information usually exists in marriage records as a whole.

Each of Someone’s Marriages

Obviously, marriage records will carry information about each of a person’s marriages. That includes marriages that last for a very short time, marriages that end in divorce and every record pertaining to those marriages, even if there are many of them.

Although marriage records do carry information about a person’s legal marriages, keep in mind that this doesn’t include other committed relationships. If the couple doesn’t have an official marriage license and isn’t married in the eyes of the state, you won’t find that information through marriage records. You’ll have to talk to the person in question to get that specific information.

General People Information

When you research marriage records, you can also use those records to get general information that public records tend to hold. You can find a variety of publicly-available information that you may be able to utilize. That might include vital records, contact information, criminal history, and other knowledge that the government deems important.

Because marriage records indicate each person’s legal name prior to the marriage, you can utilize these records to research a member you don’t know much about. If you find marriage records for a potential date, you may be able to then perform a criminal records search on your date’s previous spouse to see if your date has good taste (apart from you, of course).

Declarations of Assets

Some marriage records, especially those that rely on prenuptials, include a declaration of assets for one or both parties. Usually, people only declare assets under specific conditions, one of them being prenuptials. This declaration of assets rarely happens unless one individual is notably wealthy, so pay attention to any declarations you find.

Similar to bankruptcy records, this declaration of assets may give you insight into an individual’s place in life and monetary knowledge. If you find an individual declared very high assets during a previous marriage, but that person now has a hard time paying bills, you may wonder what changed. These declarations are an important part of research.

Why Do People Use Marriage Records?

Although marriage records can be a useful piece of information, it may be hard to see why a person would use them specifically. Whether you’re in any of these positions or you’re just interested in why others might utilize marriage records, these are the most common reasons.

Researching a New Partner

It’s not very common, but it is definitely possible for an individual to present as an unmarried person when in reality that person’s marriage is still legally binding. In fact, some people may even present as single in order to trick someone into an illicit relationship. As a new partner, you may want to check and make sure your partner is genuinely single.

This isn’t the only reason to use marriage records, either. Some people just want to know more about a potential partner’s romantic past. An individual with multiple past marriages may have more baggage than an individual who’s never married. Multiple past partners possessing criminal histories may indicate your date isn’t a good judge of character. There’s a lot you can learn about a potential date from marriage records.

Finding Hidden Family Information

Some families are more secretive than others. If your family is very secretive or doesn’t like to talk about family history, it could be that there’s a family secret you don’t know about. Sometimes that includes a marriage that so many family members were against, nobody actually talks about it. But it’s an important part of your family history, which means that you should definitely learn about these pieces of the family puzzle.

Although your family members might not tell you everything, those family members can’t hide information from the public records. If you do your own research, you can find out things about your family, even the things nobody wants to talk about.

Building a Family Tree

Ancestry researchers and genealogists can learn a lot from marriage records. When two people marry, that legally and socially changes an entire family tree. Two families combine and form a brand new one. If you’re trying to build your family tree, you may find marriage records are actually some of the most important records you can utilize during the entire process.

Even couples that divorce can be an important part of a family tree. If either individual remarries, the family tree may become a little more complicated. If two people have a child and then divorce, the family tree also has a few complications. Though you’ll want to do more research to find social relationships that don’t show up in marriage records, these records are very important anyway.

PeopleFinders Marriage Records Data

Each state has different policies for public access to marriage records. PeopleFinders covers the following states and years:

  • California (1960-1985)
  • Colorado (1975-2004)
  • Connecticut (1966-2002)
  • Florida (1970-1999)
  • Iowa (1835-1926)
  • Illinois (1793-1920)
  • Kentucky (1973-1999)
  • Maine (1892-1996)
  • Minnesota (1976-2003)
  • Nevada (1968-2000)
  • Ohio (1970-2004)
  • Texas (1968-1998)
  • Utah (1800-1999)
  • West Virginia (1931-1970)
What are Marriage Records?