You’ve Been Served: Serving Divorce Papers Through Facebook
Earlier this week, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper granted a woman permission to serve divorce papers on her husband through a private Facebook message. The last known address for the husband had been vacated and the post office did not have a forwarding address for him. Wife had minimal contact with husband over the phone and through Facebook. Husband told Wife that he did not have a fixed address. Husband did not have a job and the Department of Motor Vehicles did not have record of him. Husband was effectively a “ghost” and Wife wanted a divorce.
Typically, as is the case here in Pennsylvania, service of divorce paperwork, including the complaint, can be made in person or by sending the documents via certified and regular mail to the defendant’s last known address. Pa. R.C.P 1930.4. However, in the event that these mechanisms fail, as in the case above, a plaintiff can petition the court for alternative means of service. Usually this is accomplished by publishing notice of the action in a local newspaper or legal journal for a certain period of time. There is no guarantee, however, that the defendant will see the publication and therefore be put on notice of the anticipated action.
Service through Facebook will likely become an increasingly popular means of accomplishing service in cases where a defendant cannot be located despite plaintiffs numerous attempts. If an individual is known to use Facebook, that person is more likely to receive notice of the court action if it is sent by Facebook message than if notice is published in the newspaper. In fact, publication through Facebook is already used in the United Kingdom as an alternative method of service. However, while convenient, this type of service will probably not entirely take the place of the more traditional means of in-person or service by mail.
To schedule an appointment with one of our attorneys or for further information, call us at LaMonaca Law, at (610) 892-3877