A New York court has allowed a petitioner seeking to modify his child support obligation to serve legal papers on a respondent via Facebook when personal service was not practical. Other courts have permitted substitute service through social medial in addition to another means of service, but this decision appears to be the first allowing Facebook to serve as the primary method of service.
The petition was granted permission from the Judge to use Facebook to serve his ex-wife legal notice that he does not want to pay child support any longer. The court ruled that he could serve her using Facebook because the other more traditional methods were not successful.
The New York Judge stated in his order that it was the first of its kind in New York, and also the first in the United States that didn’t involve an attempt to serve someone overseas. Because the party’s son had turned 21, the Petition was trying to cancel his court ordered child support. He tried to serve his ex-wife at her home but was told that she had moved and there was no forwarding address.
A Google search provided no information and the man’s children would not return his calls. The court was informed that the ex-wife maintained an active social media account with Facebook and have even very recently “liked” some photos posted on Facebook by the man’s second wife.
The court ruled that it was “impracticable” for the man to serve his ex-wife personally because there was no physical address. However, the court went on to say that the ex-wife does have a means by which she can be contacted, namely the existence of a social media account.
Other legal professionals in New York have hailed the ruling saying that the idea of physically handing someone a piece of paper is the only way to serve notice is archaic.