Google the One You’re With
The best way to avoid divorce is to not marry the wrong person. There’s no 100% guarantee when you pick a mate it’s the right choice. There is a way, however, to improve the odds. How? Glad you asked!
If you are buying a new car, you would likely look on the internet and find out everything you could about the model you’re interested in. Have there been any recalls? What’s its safety rating? What kind of mileage does it get? How will it hold up over time? The better informed you are, the better your judgment in making the decision about which vehicle you are going to invest in.
We should be no less informed about a person we are contemplating allowing into our life in more than a casual way. We need to know ahead of time – before investing time and emotion – if they are safe, honest, trustworthy, reliable. If you are considering dating somebody with a hope or possibility that love will bloom, it is smart to have some basic information about the character of the person you’re dealing with. Not taking the time to look for those answers makes you foolish. If you have children, it also makes you negligent.
So, what are we looking for? And where do we find it?
- Criminal history. Check law enforcement sites for your state, city, and county. If you believe they lived in another state for a period of time, check that state, too. By checking all the relevant sites you may see a pattern that you wouldn’t otherwise discern. A public intoxication charge six years ago may not seem all that significant. Until you see a DUI (driving under the influence) in another venue two years later and a DWI (driving while impaired) in a third venue.
If your state has court dockets on-line, check there, also. Not only will you be able to see what the actual crime(s) they were charged with, you will be able to see what the disposition was – whether or not they served time, are on probation, or if something is actually pending. Many states have sex offender registries on a separate site.
Some law enforcement entities will disclose if there is an existing warrant for arrest. Helpful to know so you can avoid being in a situation where a routine traffic stop with your new pal turns into an episode of “Cops.”
- Civil Court Dockets. Don’t limit your court docket search to criminal activity – there is a lot of good information that can be obtained from examining civil dockets and cases one has been involved with.
- Marriage license (she didn’t mention she was married?)
- Divorces. How many are there? Were Contempt of Court actions filed in any (thus indicating that your buddy violated court orders)? Was the litigation lengthy? Is it ongoing?
- Paternity actions (he’s got how many kids???)
- Small Claims Court. Collection actions from apartment complexes, credit card companies, and finance companies tell you something about how they handle their bills, if they live beyond their means, and their reliability quotient.
- Evictions or Foreclosure actions. Anybody can have bad luck or hit on hard times, but if there is more than one or they are in addition to small claim or other actions, it’s starting to look more like a way of life.
- Traffic Violations. A history of excessive speeding? (Note to self: he doesn’t transport the children). A plethora of unpaid parking tickets?
- Victim Protection Orders. What were the assertions that led to an Order? Is there more than one? By more than one person? (Violations of such orders will show up in the criminal dockets.)
- Property records. A county assessor’s records will show who the property is titled to. If your friend indicated he has a place with a couple of “roomies” and you see that the house is titled to his parents, unless their last name is “Roomie” it might indicate that he is less than straight-forward.
- Social Media. Compare their profiles on their different accounts. Do they represent themselves the same way on their FaceBook (FB) profile as they do on their LinkedIn site? Scan over the pictures they post. Nature nuts? Party pics? Scan over their friends. We all know FB “friends” does not necessarily equal real-life friends, but if you see 20 friends in matching bandanas making the same hand gesture, or numerous friends in neon orange holding number placards under their faces, a red flag might go off.
Informing yourself is not cyber stalking – you are not employing any deception. You’re not even hiding your activity. When you mention something you learned about them on-line, are they flattered that you looked them up, or angry that you “invaded their privacy?”
There is no reasonable expectation of privacy with public records and information tossed out in social media. Peeking into someone’s briefcase when they leave the room, checking their caller ID while they refill your drink, and searching their medicine cabinet while using their bathroom is invasion of privacy. In contrast, looking up your potential more-than-just-a-friend’s criminal, civil and social media behavior is just common sense.
Oh yeah – while you’re at it – Google yourself so you know what they’ll see when they check you out!
If you have a tip about a helpful site to check or have had an experience that could have been avoided had you checked on-line resources, please let us know in the comment section below.