You may have
read in the news recently that a New York City judge granted a wife permission
to serve divorce papers on her husband via Facebook. The wife did not know the
current address of her husband and he had no place of work, and they had communicated
only via telephone and Facebook. The husband refused to make himself available
to be served.
As the law stands in England & Wales, the Petitioner in a divorce
needs to seek permission from the court to serve a divorce petition on a Respondent via
Facebook. The Petitioner can seek this permission when there are no other means
of contacting the Respondent (i.e. you do not know their address or their email
address) and is especially useful when the Respondent lives abroad. As part of
your application, the Petitioner needs to provide proof of attempts made to
locate the Respondent. In my own practice, I have sought permission from the
family court to serve a petition by email on a Respondent living in Brazil.
This was a straightforward application to the court and did not increase the
divorce suit costs substantially.
In my view, service of a petition
via Facebook is to become more commonplace in the future. This is already
happening in the civil courts where service has been permitted to be carried
out via Twitter and Facebook. The decision is up to the individual judge and
circumstances of the case.
If you have
any questions about your recent separation or about divorce, you can telephone
Kate Lovegrove direct on 01892 506 205 or 01732 224 025. Kate is an Associate
Solicitor & Mediator in the family team and is based in our Tunbridge Wells
and Kings Hill office.