Texans may want to learn about recent court rulings in New York in which people were allowed to serve the respondents with documents via Facebook in their family law cases. The rulings reflect the fact that the judicial system is beginning to catch up with the world of social media and its ubiquitous nature.
In both of the cases, the respondents had a significant online presence on Facebook but were difficult to locate otherwise. The first case, decided in Sept. 2014 in Staten Island, involved a man who had made multiple attempts to locate his ex-wife in order to serve her copies of his motion to terminate child support. After exhausting other methods of location, the man filed a motion with the court requesting that he be allowed to serve her with the legal documents via Facebook, and the court granted his motion.
In the second case, decided in Manhattan, a woman who had been married in 2009 wished to divorce her absentee husband. She had used every traditional means to locate him before filing a motion to serve him through Facebook’s electronic messaging system. After presenting evidence of doing such things as hiring a private investigator, researching motor vehicle and driving records and other such attempts, the judge granted her motion.
While both of these cases involved unique facts with people who apparently did not wish to be located, it is possible that such service methods will be broadened to apply to other situations as well as across jurisdictions. Currently, however, Texans who wish to divorce must follow the traditional service methods as outlined under the law. In the event that a person is having difficulty locating their spouse or their child’s parent in order to serve them, they may benefit by seeking the assistance of a family law attorney.