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Court OKs serving divorce notice on Facebook for New York woman

When a person initiates a divorce, serving the other spouse legal documentation about the intent to divorce is a requirement. Although papers are usually presented in person, a ruling in Manhattan Supreme Court sanctioned the use of Facebook to serve a divorce notice for a Brooklyn woman.

The judge allowed the digital notification by Facebook message because the woman and her attorney were able to prove that they had tried every conceivable way to locate the missing husband. She had repeatedly attempted to contact him by telephone, email and a search for his vehicle. A private detective was hired but failed to find the husband. Because he was still active on Facebook, the social media site offered the only viable way to contact him.

Another New York court also allowed a man to serve a legal notice through Facebook. A support magistrate in Staten Island ruled that he could use the platform to inform his ex-wife of his challenge to paying child support. Although New York judges are allowed leeway to interpret how legal papers are served, Facebook is considered a route of last resort. Additionally, laws vary state-by-state, and many laws have yet to be updated to include social media as a legally acceptable medium for serving legal notices.

A person who needs a divorce may need legal advice during the process. Initially, a couple has to negotiate how to separate marital assets and attend to debts. When children are involved, custody and visitation agreements need to be established as well as child support payments. The rights and obligations of a person in a divorce could be explained by an attorney, who could also assist in negotiations with the other spouse and the filing of court paperwork.

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