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No consensus on serving divorce papers through Facebook

Some Kentucky readers may be aware of recent court cases in which individuals have been served with legal papers through social media sites, Facebook in particular. Courts across the nation have been faced with this issue, as more and more people use social media to communicate with one another, and the platforms that facilitate that communication become part of American culture. However, there is still no consensus on the matter, and no guarantee that a judge will allow divorce papers or any other legal matters to be served by these means.

In a recent case, a woman tried to serve her estranged husband with divorce papers after he left her just months following their marriage, when she was six months pregnant. She suspects that he left the country and is now living abroad. However, with no way to locate him, she was left with little option other than to try and serve him through Facebook. However, when the matter went to court, the judge in the case refused to allow such service.

The judge felt that because divorce includes issues of child custody and property division, every effort must be made to ensure that both parties are notified of the proceedings and have the chance to participate. In this case, the man's Facebook account seemed to get little use, and the judge was concerned that the account was inactive. In addition, the wife failed to prove that she had used the account to regularly communicate with her husband. For those reasons, the judge refused to accept legal service through Facebook.

In other cases, courts have allowed the service of divorce papers through Facebook. When it comes to legal matters, social media remains something of a new frontier. That can leave some spouses in Kentucky with limited options for serving papers on an individual who has no known address and may wish to avoid service. There is no word on whether the wife in this case plans to appeal, or if she will pursue other avenues for ending her brief marriage.

Source: New York Post, "Judge rejects divorce papers served through Facebook", Julia Marsh, Dec. 9, 2016

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Tasha Scott Schaffner, PLLC - Attorneys at law

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