Berman & Asbel, LLP

Facebook: where family law and technology intersect

It's interesting to note that when the Internet first launched, one scientist offered the opinion that it would be nothing but a passing fancy. That was back in 1995. Look where we are today. Not only is the Internet an economic force to be reckoned with, it is also a major social force.

Some in Pennsylvania would likely argue that social media in all its many forms is destined to fade too. As recently as 2012, The New York Times raised the question "Are Social Networks Just a Fad?" But last year, Facebook celebrated 10 years of existence. That prompted the company's founder and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, to dispel notions that his company is destined for oblivion.

And now there seems to be evidence from the halls of family law justice that Facebook deserves to be considered more than just a flash in the pan. On one hand, you have an increasing number of divorce courts accepting Facebook postings in support of claims during divorce and other family law issues. That argues strongly for divorcees avoiding making any comments through that channel.

At the same time, a judge in New York City recently granted a woman the right to use Facebook to serve her husband with divorce papers. He acknowledged that straying from traditional court processes is not something to take lightly, but that shouldn't mean new ideas should be rejected. And he said that is particularly true where technology and the law intersect.

In making his decision, the judge acknowledged that the husband can't be located. He has no mailing address and no driver's license. His cellphone is a pre-paid device. He noted though that the plaintiff and defendant had been in touch through Facebook, so that medium got the green light as the line to serve the summons.

The first attempt at delivery was made early this month. There was no response from the defendant as of April 8. And that raised another question from the story's reporter, that being -- can a Facebook tag showing that the message has been read count to confirm that the husband was actually served?

What do you think?

Source: The Washington Post, "Judge rules New York City woman can serve divorce papers over Facebook," Lindsey Bever, April 8, 2015

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