You can now use Facebook to send divorce summons

What do you do if your spouse is not available or is purposefully avoiding receipt of divorce papers? In an judgement passed by a New York judge, the court has allowed a nurse to file for divorce via Facebook messaging system. This has set a precedent that people can now use Facebook messages to send court summons – at least for divorce.

facebook divorce

Facebook divorce

The Ghanaian lady is a nurse who was married to Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku. They courted for long before opting for a civil marriage in New York. Later, however, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku changed his mind on getting married according to the wedding rules of Ghana. Incidentally, both Ellanora Baidoo (the nurse) and Victor Sena Blood Dzraku (the husband) are from Ghana and they had a pre-marriage agreement that soon after a civil marriage, they will remarry with Ghana rules of marriage in front of family members of the couple. The groom however, changed his stance after the civil marriage and was not traceable. He was in touch with his wife using Facebook and phone at times.

The Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper said that if the husband is purposefully avoiding receipt of divorce summons, he can be send the papers using Facebook messaging system as it was the only medium through which the couple were interacting lately. The divorce summons will be sent once a week for three weeks or until the husband responds to the divorce summons. If the husband responds to the divorce summons, there will be a formal case as is followed for divorce procedure. If the husband ignores the summons on Facebook also, Ellanora Baidoo will automatically be eligible for a divorce.

According to the Daily News, the couple was married in 2009 in a civil ceremony. The relationship turned sour when the husband changed his mind about marriage with Ghana wedding vows in presence of both the spouses’ families. The husband was not living with the Ellanora and had no permanent address for job where the divorce summons could be sent. Hence the judge ordered divorce summons to be sent on Facebook.

Though the judgement will set a precedent to people of New York, at least, to use Facebook messaging for court summons, it has to be made sure that the system is not misused. Some people do not log into Facebook for long and in such cases, may miss court summons. That may entitle the person sending summons to automatically gain advantage. This is however a hypothesis and it remains to be seen if people will really use Facebook for legal summons and if yes, how fair it would turn out to be.

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Arun Kumar is obsessed with technology, especially the Internet. He deals with the multimedia content needs of training and corporate houses. He also offers online training for Business English. Follow him on Twitter @PowercutIN

One Comment

  1. Dan

    Obviously this is just a trial Court Judge, inventing new interpretations of a New York Code Of Civil Procedure in re service of process; the true propriety that electronic personal media constitutes a good faith attempt of “publication” in a medium of general circulation germane to the subject respondent may well be decided in reviewing Courts; e.g., in a particular situation it may apropos, as in this one, or some lawyer might argue that even so, even if a forum name isn’t faked/wrong named person, Facebook of one person versus general newspaper ad overly presumes someone will easily return to, be told by others about, or be the proper person…again, only time will tell.

    But if the various Courts here can come to a consensus permitting some degree of notice by mere internet, even I could avail of the practice: for a while, I’ve had an extremely elusive set of persons technically able to keep hiding, wait for traditional notice by publication, then specially appear to contest service by publication and restart the vicious circle…if it becomes lawful to serve by their business and social website media, that and regular publication could put an end to jurisdictional matters…for now, the matter would not be part of New York’s Judicial system, so I’m stymied…even where the proposed respondents’ use of internet ironically is allowably part of the cause for legal action.

    Thanks for this tip, which I hadn’t even gotten from government and legal services digests I receive; I’ll be sure to keep an eye on developments. Cheers!

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