Recently, a New York woman was able to legally serve divorce papers via Facebook Messenger.
Ellanora Baidoo’s husband had run away; he had no listed address, and was unable to be located by a private investigator. The only way that she had contact with him was through his cell phone and Facebook.
Facebook Serving is Approved
Due to the unusual circumstances of this case, the court approved a Facebook message as the method for initiating the divorce process. The “read” timestamp that Facebook provides will be considered proof that the husband had indeed seen the scanned PDF of the wife’s summons.
A Judge allowed Baidoo’s divorce lawyer to serve papers though sending a private Facebook message. This is a first in divorce practice and has many people wondering if there will soon be a legal shift in how divorce papers are served to uncooperative spouses, especially as social media usage increases and becomes more mainstream.
Signed Papers are Necessary for Divorce
The first step of the divorce process in Michigan is successfully serving the complaint for divorce. When this is completed, the couple can begin court proceedings. However, if a spouse refuses to accept service of the initial divorce papers, or is simply unreachable, it complicates the process.
This is why many people initially seek out a divorce lawyer. Their life is at a standstill if there is no response from their spouse. When a spouse is unwilling to accept the divorce papers or is not responsive, a lawyer can ask the court to file a Motion for Alternative Service.
Alternative Service Options
Some more common ways of serving papers though alternative service is to affix papers to the door of the unresponsive spouse or the local courthouse, publish the summons and complaint in a local newspaper, or mail the papers (with specific mailing requirements). In Michigan, all of these options, when approved by the judge, will result in the commencement of the divorce process.
This case, while strange, highlights how today’s technological advances have proved helpful in many aspects of divorce law.
Court: NYC woman can serve divorce papers via Facebook. (2015, April 6). The Detroit News. Retrieved April 15, 2015, from http://www.detroitnews.com/story/news/nation/2015/04/06/facebook-divorce/25350307/
Reisman, D. (2010, February 10). What is an order regarding alternate service? Retrieved April 14, 2015, from http://www.avvo.com/legal-answers/what-is-an-order-regarding-alternate-service–203186.html