On March 27, 2015, the Supreme Court, New York County granted permission to serve a divorce summons using exclusively a private message through Facebook.
In this matrimonial action, the issue before the court, by way of plaintiff-wife’s ex parte application, was whether she may serve defendant-husband with the divorce summons solely by sending it through Facebook by private message to his account.
According to the court, plaintiff met the requirement of demonstrating that she was be unable to effect personal service on defendant. Defendant told plaintiff by telephone that he had no fixed address and no place of employment. He also refused to make himself available to be served with divorce papers. All investigative firms that plaintiff hired to assist in locating defendant had all been unsuccessful in their efforts, the post office had no forwarding address for him, there was no billing address linked to his pre-paid cell phone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him. Personal delivery of the summons to him has proved impossible.
In addition, plaintiff demonstrated that service by Facebook abides with due process principles and provided defendant with notice of the divorce. In order to demonstrate the above, plaintiff submitted a supplemental affidavit verifying that the Facebook account pertained to the defendant. She annexed to the affidavit copies of the exchanges that took place between her and defendant through his Facebook page, and identified defendant as the subject of the photographs that appear on that page. Through the exchanges with defendant via Facebook she was able to show that he regularly logged on to his account.
Being the court satisfied that Facebook was a method reasonably calculated to give defendant notice that he was being sued for divorce, the court agreed to make it the sole, rather than the supplemental, means of service.
The court concluded: “Specifically, because litigants are prohibited from serving other litigants, plaintiff’s attorney shall log into plaintiff’s Facebook account and message the defendant by first identifying himself, and then including either a web address of the summons or attaching an image of the summons. This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged by the defendant. Additionally, after the initial transmittal, plaintiff and her attorney are to call and text message defendant to inform him that the summons for divorce has been sent to him via Facebook”.
Baidoo v Blood-Dzraku, 2015 NY Slip Op 25096 is available at http://www.courts.state.ny…
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