Many New Jersey readers are aware that a neighboring state has recently allowed legal service through social media, and Facebook in particular. In a recent case, however, a judge has denied a woman's use of Facebook to serve her estranged husband with divorce papers. As this issue continues to face family courts across the nation, the issue of how technology could impact legal service will continue to be addressed.
In the case mentioned above, a woman made an effort to serve her husband with divorce papers after she was unable to determine his location. The couple separated after just a few months of marriage, and the woman believes that her husband has left the country and is living abroad. Wishing to file for divorce and move on with her life, she felt that she had little option other than to use Facebook to deliver the paperwork.
The judge in the case was unwilling to allow this form of service, pointing out that matters of child custody and property division are serious and that all parties must be given the right to participate in hearings on those topics. He also stated that the woman had failed to adequately prove that the Facebook account in question actually belonged to her husband. There was also a question about whether the husband regularly used the social media site as a means of communication.
This leaves the woman in a difficult position. Until she is able to file for divorce and properly serve her husband, she will be unable to settle matters of property division and child custody. Since her husband abruptly left her when she was six months pregnant in 2011, she is likely anxious to move on with her life and leave the marriage behind her. Many New Jersey residents can understand her frustrations.
Source: New York Post, "Judge rejects divorce papers served through Facebook", Julia Marsh, Dec. 9, 2016