When you file for a divorce in Austin, Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos, you must ensure your spouse receives proper notification of court paperwork. Delivering divorce papers to a spouse is called service of process and proof that your spouse has been served is necessary to move forward with the case.
An experienced family law attorney knows that sometimes it can be complicated to serve a spouse with divorce papers, especially if he or she does not have an address or is trying not to be found. Now, however, it could be a little easier since courts are starting to rule that papers can be served via social media.
Service of Process on Social Media for Divorce Cases
The Washington Post recently reported on a divorce case in New York where a woman was given permission to serve her husband with divorce paperwork on Facebook.
Personal delivery was traditionally a standard method of delivering divorce papers in order to ensure that a person who is sued for divorce is made aware of the proceedings. However, there has been a shift in recent years. Around 10 years ago, some courts began allowing service of a summons via email — this was considered a “cutting edge development,” at the time. Even today, email is still not a statutorily authorized method of service of process although courts do routinely allow emails to be used as an alternative method of service.
Social media is the next new frontier. There are a very limited number of existing court decisions specifically addressing whether service of process can legally be accomplished via social media websites like Facebook. The majority of the cases that have addressed this question are federal district court cases. There has been almost an even split among the courts that have considered this issue regarding whether servicing notice of pending legal proceedings via Facebook or other social media sites is acceptable or is not acceptable. When cases allow for service of process via social media, usually this type of service is permitted only on condition that other methods will be tried to deliver the papers as well.
Courts in 2012 and 2013 that permitted the use of Facebook to serve someone with notice of pending civil action described this approach to service of process as a “novel concept.” However, the New York court did rule that providing notice of a divorce via private message on Facebook was “reasonably calculated” to alert the defendant of impending legal action. When other alternative methods of service of process are impractical or impossible, this may actually be the best way to ensure that someone is actually reached.
As social media becomes more and more a part of people’s lives and more communication moves to the digital realm, it is likely that service of process via Facebook will become more common in divorce cases.
Contact Bertolino LLP at 512-717-5432 to schedule a consultation with an Austin, TX divorce lawyer today. Serving Austin and surrounding suburbs including Round Rock, Cedar Park, Georgetown and San Marcos.