Need a current address for a long-lost parent
January 19, 2010 11:55 AM   Subscribe

Looking for an estranged father. Need an address to write a letter to, only have a name and a (possibly old) cell number.

Asking on behalf of a friend whose parents divorced when she was three. Messy custody battles, etc, led to her mother wanting nothing to do with her father ever again. She hasn't seen him since she was five.

Her mother passed a few months ago, and perhaps from a guilty conscience, wanted my friend to try to contact her father - she is now about to get married. There may also be a new family involved. This is all information from her mother, and no other relatives have any information. Relatives on her father's side are either not known (whereabouts) or deceased. Because her parents were not born or married here, no SS numbers seem to be available.

The only somewhat concrete information she now has - from her mother - is that he is alive and lives in Silver Lake (Los Angeles). How her mother knew this, no one knows. She has a cellphone number that she tried calling, but it is possibly an old one, and leads to a generic voice message. We have tried extensive Google searches, to no avail. Also, she prefers to write him a letter first, so as not to be intrusive (and startling). She has reason to believe that he may have tried to contact her, but her mother did not permit this.

All we need is a current address. If all else fails, a PI might be our only choice, and recommendations are welcome.

Thank you for your suggestions. This means a lot to her!
posted by Everydayville to Human Relations (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Start with You have a first name, a last name, and a city and state. That will narrow the results down dramatically. You can write to the address(es) you get off zabasearch. Or, you could take a chance and leave a voice message at the number you have even if the outgoing voice message is pretty generic.

Good luck.
posted by onhazier at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2010

Try It will spit out a list of names and addresses, a lot of which is outdated, so you may have to do some followup work to determine which is current (if any).
posted by Diddly at 12:06 PM on January 19, 2010

Thanks, onhazier. We did try Zaba, but no addresses exist for him in Los Angeles. The letter we wrote to the one that did exist in Colorado was returned.
posted by Everydayville at 12:07 PM on January 19, 2010

Ask your local librarian. There are frequently subscription databases available at the library which search public records, for instance ReferenceUSA and AncestryLibrary. If you have a library card already, try searching your library's website to find out if there are any research databases you can access from home using your library card number.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 12:10 PM on January 19, 2010

This may be completely stupid, but have you tried looking for him on social media sites? It seems like everybody and their grandmother have a Facebook page now.
posted by TooFewShoes at 12:16 PM on January 19, 2010

If all else fails, hiring a private investigator may set her back a few hundred dollars but I can almost guarantee they will find him, if he's not actively hiding (and probably can find him even then).
posted by anastasiav at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2010

Haha. Yes, we Facebooked, LinkedIn'ed, and MySpace'd him. No hits, thankfully.
posted by Everydayville at 12:22 PM on January 19, 2010

Maybe ask the lawfirm that handled the divorce or custody battle? They may have records that include the address of the father.

Also, search her files and letters for any correspondance regarding child support. Even if she wanted nothing personal to do with her ex, she may still have had contact. Old tax returns might have clues too, if she kept records.

Also, birth certificates for your friend and marriage certificates (whether US or foreign) may have additional information and may not be too hard to get.
posted by zippy at 12:25 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yeah, talk to your library and look into what you might have access to through someone you know who's affiliated with a university or a law firm. One service that jumps to mind is Accurint, part of Lexis Nexis (Accurint® is the most widely accepted locate-and-research tool available to government, law enforcement and commercial customers. Its proprietary data linking and analysis technology, LexisNexis® Link ID™, securely and intelligently analyzes billions of partial and complete records, and then filters and links that information based on relevance to provide a complete picture of an individual—all in a matter of seconds.) I believe there are certain kinds of searches you can only legally do for certain reasons (law enforcement, collecting debts, etc)-- I can't find a listing now (that may vary state to state) but your friend may qualify either as being owed a debt due to missed child support (she wouldn't be obligated to collect it, but it could be what gives her the legal right to search certain information) or there may be rules that allow searches for relatives... sorry I can't dig this up right now! A search term that might be useful to you is "skip tracing."

Also, apparently the IRS will sometimes forward letters, although it sounds like they're pretty specific about when they'll do it-- one of the reasons is "A person is seeking to find a missing person to convey a message of an urgent or compelling nature, e.g., the individual would be notified of the serious illness, imminent death, or death of a close relative," but I don't know if they'd consider a long-estranged ex-wife a "close relative." Anyway, might be worth poking into: link here.
posted by EmilyClimbs at 1:44 PM on January 19, 2010

It sounds like you already know this, since you wrote "Silver Lake (Los Angeles)," but Silver Lake is a neighborhood that is part of the city of L.A. Sometimes people type "Silver Lake" as the city into forms and they end up getting results from a city called Silver Lake which is somewhere in Northern CA.
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:45 PM on January 19, 2010

(My point being, you should just type "Los Angeles" into any city fields, which you were probably doing already.)
posted by drjimmy11 at 1:46 PM on January 19, 2010
posted by bunny hugger at 2:12 PM on January 19, 2010

2nding intelius. I've had good results finding my estranged father through it. And the missing father of a friend. And it's pretty cheap... less than $10 I think.
posted by jdfan at 4:15 PM on January 19, 2010

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