Matrimonial and Family Law Blog

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Judge rejects divorce papers served through Facebook

Is it ever acceptable to serve divorce papers through social media in New York?

Going through the divorce process is difficult, especially if your soon-to-be ex-spouse is not cooperating or his or her location is unknown. If it were only as easy as changing your relationship status on Facebook…

A New York woman actually tried to notify her husband that she filed for divorce via Facebook, but the judge was not having it. According to court documents, Manal H. Qaza attempted to serve her husband with notice of divorce through Facebook because she did not know her husband’s whereabouts and believed him to be living in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Qaza filed for divorce after her husband suddenly left her and their unborn child after only three months of marriage. Qaza and her attorneys tried everything from talking to friends and searching public records, but to no avail.

Why is “Service” so Important?

The purpose of serving someone with legal papers is so that they are on notice of the proceedings and can take steps to defend their interests. In Qaza’s case, there are child custody, child support and possibly property interests that need to be disposed of. It would be unfair for the proceedings to go on without her husband’s presence.

Despite the fact that other New York judges have accepted social media as a means to serve legal papers, this case is a little different. The key here is whether the person actually has a good chance of receiving the notice. For those of us who are on social media daily, it’s not hard to imagine that we would receive a notice from someone, whether just to say “hi” or to say, “I want a divorce.”

According to Justice Sunshine, Qaza’s husband’s Facebook profile was inactive, with his most recent posting from April 2014. There is no evidence that he would timely receive the notice of divorce.

Is Service Ever Ok Via Social Media?

The answer is: sometimes. In 2014, Magistrate Gliedman ruled that a man could notify his wife via Facebook that he no longer wished to pay child support. Then, in 2015, Justice Cooper allowed delivery of divorce documents via Facebook. The key factor seems to be that the person being served must have an active profile and be reasonably likely to be on actual notice.

Unfortunately for Qaza, she will have to pay over $3,000 to have a notice posted in a Saudi newspaper.

Thinking of Divorce?

Before you do anything, talk to an experienced matrimonial attorney. Our experienced matrimonial lawyers will provide you with accurate information so that you know your moving forward.  If you are considering a divorce call the law offices of Gassman Baiamonte Betts, PC today at 516.228.9181. 

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