Facebook has been a place for people to promote their newly single status for years, but now it also has the power to help people legally reclaim their single life.
In a landmark ruling, a New York City judge had declared that Facebook messages are an acceptable way to serve divorce papers, according to the New York Daily Post.
Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper has given permission for a nurse named Ellanora Baidoo to serve her elusive husband Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku through a private message on Facebook.
Her lawyer Andrew Spinnell will message Mr Blood-Dzraku, through her account, once a week for three consecutive weeks or until Mr Blood-Dzraku acknowledges it.
While the first Facebook message was sent out last week, Mr Blood-Drzaku has yet to respond.
Mr Spinnell said the new law was necessary and noted that it had been incredibly difficult to try serve Mr Blood-Szraku by traditional methods.
“We tried everything, including hiring a private detective — and nothing,” Mr Spinnell said.
Mr Blood-Dzraku who has no fixed address or place of employment, occasionally keeps in touch with his 26-year-old wife on the phone and through Facebook, the ruling said according to New York Daily News.
The post office has no forwarding address for Mr Blood-Dzraku, who refused to make himself available to be served divorced papers.
‘There is no billing address linked to his prepaid cell phone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him,’ the ruling added.
Mr Spinnell says the couple married in a civil ceremony in 2009, but noted that the relationship began to unravel when the defendant reneged on his promise to a traditional Ghanaian wedding ceremony as well.
As a result, the couple from Ghana never consummated their marriage and the husband and wife never lived together.
So does any of this apply to Australia?
The answer is YES! It could also happen in Australia.
Normally documents are served in two ways in Australia that is acceptable to the Court. The first means of service is personal service which cannot be done personally by the applicant. A Process Server is engaged (or a friend or relative) to serve the documents. Normally a photo is provided so that the respondent can be identified. Car registration details and other information which would assist in identifying the respondent is normally provided. The Process Server is required to ask questions to properly identify the person served. The Process Server is then required to complete an affidavit of service setting out all relevant information in regard to the service of the documents which affidavit is filed with the Court.
The second acceptable means of service is by post. Included with the documents to be served is a document titled “Acknowledgement of Service” which the respondent is required to sign and return. If this document is signed and returned then the applicant is required to identify the signature of the person served in an affidavit titled “Proof of Signature” and this is filed with an affidavit of service setting out the details of the service of the documents by post.
If the respondent fails to complete the Acknowledgement of Service then personal service is required.
If however the whereabouts of the respondent is not known an application can be made for substituted service nominating a suitable means of service which would enable the respondent to be made aware of the proceedings before the Court.
An application can also be made for the whereabouts of the respondent to be provided by the Department of Social Security if the respondent is known to be receiving government benefits.
Before an application is made for substituted service the Court must be satisfied that all appropriate means to locate the respondent have been exhausted and the whereabouts are unable to be established. This may mean inquiries with relatives, friends, the last place of employment and so forth.
If the Court is satisfied the respondent will gain knowledge of the proceedings by substituted service then service may be ordered by Facebook, email or posted to a known close relative or some other acceptable means.
In response to the article in question, yes the documents may be served by Facebook if the Court deems that to be an acceptable means of service.