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Facebook potentially the last resort in divorce proceedings

Technology progresses at such a heightened pace that it can be difficult to keep up. Residents of California may be aware that a mere decade ago the service of court papers via email was considered an innovative move forward in civil lawsuits. Since then, social media has become such a deeply integrated part of our everyday lives that it is almost impossible to go more than a few hours without using one format or another. A recent case has tested the waters regarding the use of the social media platform Facebook in relation to the serving of divorce papers.

A couple who was from another country but living in the United States married some years ago in a civil ceremony. The wife claims that the husband promised an additional ceremony for a traditional Ghanaian wedding, however, following the civil ceremony, he refused to participate in any further marriage services. She claims that they have never lived together, and that their only communication has been by telephone and via Facebook. When the wife decided to file for divorce, she encountered problems in locating her estranged husband.

He vacated the premises of his last known address some years ago, and all attempts to locate a more recent permanent address have failed. The wife employed investigators, as well as used the more usual methods of tracing addresses. Having exhausted all means possible to locate her husband, a Manhattan Supreme Court justice finally ruled that she could legitimately serve the papers using the private-message facility on Facebook. In order to make this legally binding, he ruled that the papers must be served once a week for three weeks.

This may be the first time that social media has been employed in this manner, but the circumstances of this case are extreme. It is not an unusual occurrence for a spouse to attempt to evade the serving of papers, in order to postpone or avoid completely the prospect of divorce, however, the subject of the service is usually easier to locate than he or she may think. California residents whose estranged spouse is proving uncooperative in divorce proceedings should seek advice appropriate to his or her own circumstances. There are many avenues that may be explored in order to serve papers on evasive partners.

Source: ibtimes.com, "Divorce Papers Over Facebook? Judge Allows Woman To 'Serve' Husband Via Social Media", Philip Ross, April 6, 2015

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