Can You Serve Divorce Papers On Facebook?
A New York judge recently granted permission to a woman to serve a divorce complaint via her husband’s page on, you guessed it, Facebook. This ruling is not only precedential, it also shows how modern social media is now being addressed in the court system.
In New Jersey, a person must be physically served with a divorce summons and complaint. This can be done via a professional process server or through the sheriff’s department, which is authorized to serve legal process. However, sometimes personal services is impossible (the person has moved and their whereabouts unknown) and, at that point, the courts can allow for substituted service such as publication in the local newspaper where the person was last known to reside. Your spouse certainly does not have to agree to the divorce, but they must be properly served with the paperwork.
Up until recently, service through social media was not considered proper service by many courts.
According to Jennifer Weisberg Millner, Esq. of Fox, Rothschild.com, in the New York matter, “the plaintiff wife had no idea where her estranged husband was residing and all efforts to locate him had failed. He did however have a Facebook page and communicated on it regularly. The plaintiff wife successfully argued to the judge that the most likely way to provide notice to her husband of the divorce was to post onto his Facebook wall a notice that the matter was pending. The judge agreed.”
And, according to James Joiner of thedailybeast.com, in England, it has been acceptable to use Facebook to send court documents since 2012. Joiner has strong beliefs regarding utilizing Facebook as a means to serve legal papers, stating, “the world’s most ubiquitous social network just added a new feather in its cap of dubious achievements: civil process server.”
It is important to stress that service of process through social media is not a widespread practice yet, and in the cases where it has been granted it is only after all other methods of locating and serving the individual have been exhausted.
What do you think? Should service of a divorce through Facebook be permitted? What if the spouse has disappeared and you have no other means of contacting him or her?
Tell us what you think on our Facebook page, we would love to hear from you!
If you have a question regarding filing for divorce or if you have been served with divorce papers, please contact the office of Brunetti, Donnelly & Gulczynski to set up a free consultation.