A Judge out of New York has granted a client and her attorney to serve her ex-husband via facebook by sending him the divorce papers via facebook message once a week for three (3) weeks. The Judge has instructed the client to give her attorney her facebook password to do the “service” on her behalf each week. It appears that the husband made himself purposefully difficult to locate and refused to tender an address for service. The woman had even hired a private investigator, allegedly, to serve the husband. With no luck, the Judge allowed service via “facebook”.
This case is in no way precedential in Illinois since it is out of New York. Additionally, I would not count on Judges beginning to allow service via “facebook” anytime in the near future in Illinois. In cases where we are unable to locate a party and they have refused to give an address or have made it difficult, purposefully, for their spouse to find them, litigants in Illinois have other options. A litigant in Illinois can request permission to serve a party by “publication” to effectuate service on them. Similar to the New York “facebook” service, you publish notification of the case once a week for three weeks, give the litigant you are trying to serve notice of the last date they can file their appearance, and if they do not file it, they are considered served. This allows a party to get divorced without physically serving their spouse, but unfortunately, most asset and debt allocation will be reserved for a future division.
It will be interesting to see how asset division and debt division will be handled in the “facebook” service case. I will be keeping an eye out for future blogs on this issue as we learn more.