Courts across the United States are increasingly allowing divorce papers (and other legal papers) to be served through social media sites. However, Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Jeffrey Sunshine recently took a different stance on the issue, and ruled that a single mother’s service of divorce papers to her husband through his Facebook page was legally ineffective.
In this case, the husband left the marital home just three months after the couple married, when the wife was six months pregnant. The wife informed the court that she made every effort to locate her estranged husband, including contacting his friends and family, and searching public records. His driver’s license was suspended by the State of New York in 2012, but that was the last piece of information linking the husband to the United States. The wife believes that he has been deported and is living in Saudi Arabia.
Methods of Serving Divorce Papers Can be Costly and Dated
New York courts allow service to be made by publication of the divorce summons in a local newspaper. However, the single mother affirmed to the court that publication of the notice in a Riyadh newspaper costs approximately $3,000, which, as a single mother, would be an extreme hardship.
Another option for serving divorce papers in New York is the “nail and mail” method, where the summons can be affixed to the door of the place of business, home, or “usual place of abode” within the state of the person to be served, along with mailing the notice to the person’s last known address. The wife argued that sending the summons to her husband via Facebook was much more practical than this method.
Despite these unusual circumstances, the Brooklyn judge denied her request. The judge noted that the husband had not updated his Facebook page since 2014, so it was unclear whether he was still using the page. The wife testified that she communicated with her husband via Facebook since 2014, but did not provide any supporting documentation. The judge asserted that there was too much at stake in a divorce to allow the service of divorce papers through an arguably inactive Facebook page—including child support, property rights, custody, and visitation.
New York courts have previously recognized service of summons by email, but only where the two parties had been in active recent communication via email at the e-address where the party was served. At least two other judges in New York have allowed service of divorce summons via social media, including Facebook. It will be interesting to see how the ruling in this case will affect similar cases in other states.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Advocate for Divorcing Couples in Maryland
If you are seeking a divorce in Maryland, our Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help. We work with a highly skilled team of investigators, and have multiple other resources available to locate individuals and serve them with divorce papers. To schedule a consultation, call us at 443-589-0150 or complete our online contact form today. We represent clients in the greater Baltimore area and throughout the state of Maryland.