Service Of Process Through Facebook? Not Quite Yet

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What if you could serve your former husband for child support through Facebook? Service of process may be an easy task for a number of individuals; however, some of those keen to avoid it soon learn to become excellent dodgers. In 2014, one New York court gave the "okay" to use Facebook as a means of service.

Last September, a New York City family court magistrate ruled that the plaintiff, who no longer wished to pay child support for his 21-year-old son, could serve the defendant, his former wife, through social media after having exhausted all of his other options. In this case, the mail option failed because the defendant had moved and provided no forwarding address. A Google search yielded no illumination, and the defendant would not answer the plaintiff's calls. This case was the first such decision in the US that did not involve serving of process abroad.

In some ways, it makes sense. It's not unusual to see your 84-year-old mom, 40-year-old cousin, 16-year-old son, and 11-year-old niece posting daily everything, from the complexities of newfangled devices to the inner workings of preteen love. In the last quarter, Facebook reported having 1,393,000,000 monthly active users. It could be much easier for a plaintiff to find the defendant online than in person. The idea of having to physically hand someone a piece of paper seems obsolete in an age where many individuals have an active online presence and where people no longer live in the same house for 20 years.

On the other hand, Facebook accounts are relatively easy to create and there are ample cases of stolen identities online. It could be difficult to prove that the person you need to serve is the same person accessing the Facebook account with his or her name listed. As of now, there have been no cases in North Carolina providing the stamp of approval for social media service of process. Still, it is entirely possible that in the future, a simple Facebook message could successfully serve that service-dodging defendant.

For help with service of process or other family law issues, Concord, NC office.


Judge Oks Serving Legal Papers via Facebook (Julia Marsh, Reuven Fenton, and Bruce Golding of the New York Post)

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered or substituted as legal advice.