A woman called us for help because she suspected that her boyfriend was married. She had looked up marriage records in her county and didn’t find anything. She knew that he may have married elsewhere, but didn’t know where to search. He was originally from Boston, and he could have married there, but neither the City of Boston nor the State of Massachusetts has an online marriage database.
She just wasn’t sure where to go next.
We suggested that she use our site to go to the recorded documents database in her county to see if he owned a home and how the property was vested (owned). Sure enough, she found his address and all the documents that have been filed in his name at that address. The documents showed that he had purchased, financed, and recently refinanced the property with his wife. The vesting was “Married, filing jointly,” meaning that it was very likely that he was married.
The woman who asked for help thanked us, and promised that the man would get an earful the next time he called for a date.
What makes recorded documents so valuable?
Recorded Documents are generally considered to be deeds, mortgages, liens, and judgments, but they often contain so much more. You can often find military discharges, bonds, trusts, child support enforcement, business registration, power of attorney filings, financing statements, Uniform Commercial Code filings, trusts, partnership documents, leases, and Wills. Some counties also provide birth, death and marriage certificates, and quite a few will give you copies of the documents online—for free.
Try it yourself at the Maricopa County, Arizona Recorder’s database:
There’s no need to sign in and you can view the documents without paying a fee.
Or try the Cuyahoga County, Ohio Recorder’s offering found here:
Compare the two and you’ll find that many of the documents they provide are the same, but each provides additional categories that the other doesn’t offer.
Florida has a statewide service that they provide through myfloridacounty.com, but the database they provide isn’t as robust as what the local Florida counties provide directly. But if you’re looking statewide for information it can’t be beat.
How do you find these treasures? One of the difficulties in trying to find these databases is that they have so many different names. Many people call these “grantor/grantee indexes.” Florida calls them “Official Records.” Georgia calls it their “Real Estate Index” (available statewide). In some states you have to search the county “Clerk of Court,” while in others the records are filed at the “Registry of Deeds.” The other problem is that the search engines have gotten so large that often the link that you want is buried behind hundreds of thousands of other results—if it even exists.
As you might know, we’ve been working since 1996 to find public record databases and provide an online directory of public records on our web site. To make it easy for our visitors we try to keep the link titles as consistent as we can. All recorded document links on our site are labeled as “Recorded Documents.”
To help you find the kind public records you want, we’ve grouped the most commonly used categories together. Go to the left-hand column of almost any page on our site and you’ll find helpful search fields. The drop-down menu on the top left in U.S. States says “By Topic.” Click on that and go to the “Recorded Documents” section for that state.
Or better yet, just click here:
Alternatively, pick a state and then county page that you want to search and check to see if that county makes recorded document information available online. Or do a search by zip code, city and state, or county and state and click on the link to the county you want to search.
Keep in mind though that not every county provides their recorded document information online. And many that do now charge a fee for document copies or contract with a third party for fee-based searches.
One last thing—all of our links are handpicked and qualified by our staff. We also write a brief description of each link and add any helpful hints so that you’ll know what to expect from each database.
Let us know if you need help or know of anything we’ve missed.