Individuals in Pennsylvania may be interested to learn that a woman was allowed to serve divorce papers using Facebook when she was unable to locate her husband by other means. After attempts to locate the man by phone and email and even a private detective failed, a judge approved her use of Facebook since the man was active on the site.
The judge who approved the use of Facebook was in New York, and the decision followed one in October 2014 when a man was permitted to notify his ex-wife that he no longer wished to pay child support. As with the later case, the man had tried unsuccessfully to reach her through traditional channels.
Experts say that New York law is written in a way that allows judges a wider interpretation of the law around service of process than some other states, but the decisions suggest that this may become more widespread. Other states may eventually begin to revise laws to reflect the role of social media in people’s lives and to permit legal notices to be served via social media.
Individuals who are divorcing may face a number of obstacles whether or not they have difficulty locating their spouses. An attorney may be helpful if an individual is having difficulty in serving divorce papers as well as with negotiations over issues such as child support, child custody, property division and spousal support. If mediation or negotiation are not an option or if they fail, an attorney may also be helpful with divorce litigation. As the Facebook cases demonstrate, creative legal solutions may be available. For example, equitable distribution of property might mean spouses trading off assets of equal value so that one might get the house in exchange for the other taking over a joint bank account.