Whenever a party is engaged in a family law matter before the court, it can logically be presumed that that party’s behavior, past and present, would be relevant to your case.  However, parties may not always think about how the behavior of a new spouse, partner, or roommate may impact a current family law matter.  This is particularly true for family law cases involving children. Do you know who you live with?

Within the context of a pending family law matter, I am routinely asked by clients, “Can I begin dating again?” or “I may have to have someone move in with me to share rent, is that okay?”  My common response is, “Maybe.”  It is imperative that parents become aware of the personal background of people who will interact with their children.  It is not enough to “assume” that your new significant other or roommate is a decent enough sort or “could never” engage in suspect behaviors or have a criminal past.

In today’s digital age, it is very easy to take at least basic precautions to help ensure that people with whom your children interact are safe and as wholesome as you believe them to be.

  1. Ask for the person’s full name (including middle name) and date of birth. This is the most basic of things you can do and it will help facilitate the rest of these suggestions.
  2. “Google”® them. Simply inputting their name into your favorite web browser can yield anything from recent arrests to committee memberships.  It is a good start but it is by no means exhaustive of the information you should be looking at.
  3. Review their Facebook® and other social media websites. What is the impression that these sites leave a casual observer?  That may be the impression given to your children’s other parent, their attorney, a custody evaluator, or a judge.
  4. Run their name through local and/or state-wide (or broader) Court docket systems. The Maricopa County Superior Court, for example, has a terrific website that is very user friendly when it comes to researching pending or past cases.  It will not provide information about juvenile matters and it will not go back further than the late 90’s, but you can look up criminal and civil cases since that time.  Go one step further and access the Arizona Supreme Court’s Public Information site and local justice courts’ consolidated website.

Some of these suggestions may seem a bit dramatic.  However, it can be shocking to discover unexpected details about the person with whom you share a home, or with whom you permit your children to interact

This blog should be used for informational purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice, please feel free to contact Lindsay A. M. Olivarez at www.udallshumway.com or contact an attorney in your community.