Facebook became popular as a platform for communication but it is about to take on a new role as a place where divorce papers can be served. Early this week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper gave permission to Ellanora Baidoo to serve divorce papers to her elusive husband through a Facebook message.
Ending a marriage in divorce can be quite messy but it doesn’t mean that Facebook will be an official communication venue because when it comes to serving legal documents, procedures vary according to states. There is no general rule followed on what constitutes proper legal notification.
Sending legal notices through emails or fax do not legally count because there is still the option of mailing the documents to the last known address. If a third-party service or a process server cannot physically hand the document to the defendant because of evasive techniques, a notice can be published in the local newspaper.
The decision of Justice Cooper is tantamount to putting Fecebook messages at par with postal mail. Using social media was a last resort because the whereabouts of the Ellanora’s husband was unknown and he only communicated with the ex-wife through phone calls and Facebook messages. Ellanora knew how to contact him through social media so that the lawyer made the first attempt to serve the husband through Ellanora’s Facebook account. So far, no response has been received.
Facebook may have unknowingly made itself as a more attractive venue for courtroom communications because there is the read receipt for messages. Facebook is also a secure way for communications but in the light of the recent well publicized hackings, it is not clear whether all lawmakers and judges will agree. Despite complications, it is just a matter of time before digital communications will be acceptable in legal settings.
Serving divorce papers through social media may sound convenient but the best option is still the Process agent who will ensure that the documents are received by the defendant at all costs. The courts will also be notified once the notice has been served so that court proceedings can push through in a timely manner.