Court Says Okay to Serving Divorce Papers Over Facebook

Most people are well aware that when Facebook and marriage are mentioned in the same sentence, it seldom bodes well as far as martial satisfaction or longevity is concerned. Indeed, it seems as if countless studies have shown that the popular social media site is serving to create emotional distance between spouses or even facilitate infidelity.

As it turns out, Facebook has once again made the headlines in the context of divorce. However, this time it has nothing to do with the habits of its married members or its overall impact on the institution of marriage.  

An appellate court in New York City recently held that a woman who married her husband in a civil ceremony back in 2009 but has had only sporadic contact with him since can provide him with notice of her divorce filing via Facebook.

Specifically, the court ruled that given the non-responsive nature of her husband, the woman can serve her husband with a divorce summons via a private Facebook message sent once a week for three consecutive weeks, or until such time as he acknowledges the message.  

While this is certainly a groundbreaking ruling, some legal experts have argued that it is perhaps overdue given the prominent role that social media now plays in the daily lives of so many people of many different ages.

Furthermore, they argue that the longstanding method of service — posting in a legal publication — is perhaps no longer the best way to notify parties that they are being served with divorce papers.

It will be interesting to see if other courts follow the lead of this New York appellate court in permitting divorce papers to be served via Facebook in certain circumstances.

While convenience and the ability to reach more people are certain factors to consider, it will be important that courts also consider things like cybersecurity — i.e., ensuring the dates of service aren’t somehow altered — going forward.

What are your thoughts on this matter?