Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

Calling social media “the next frontier in the developing law of the service of process over the internet,” a New York judge has allowed service of divorce papers via Facebook private messaging. This is either a cold invasion of one’s social media space or a practical solution to a service problem. Either way, it’s something few recipients will “Like.”

The judge found that under the circumstances – the defendant’s address was unknown and there was evidence that he regularly checked his Facebook account – such service was sufficient. The judge held that:


In the final analysis, constitutional principles, not the lack of judicial precedent or the novelty of Facebook service, will be ultimately determinative here. The central question is whether the method by which plaintiff seeks to serve defendant comports with the fundamentals of due process by being reasonably calculated to provide defendant with notice of the divorce. Or more simply posed: If the summons for divorce is sent to what plaintiff represents to be defendant’s Facebook account, is there a good chance he will receive it?


Under the circumstance presented here, service by Facebook, albeit novel and non-traditional, is the form of service that most comports with the constitutional standards of due process. Not only is it reasonably calculated to provide defendant with notice that he is being sued for divorce, but every indication is that it will achieve what should be the goal of every method of service: actually delivering the summons to him.


This isn’t the first time a US judge has granted someone permission to serve legal documentation on Facebook — last year, one man was allowed to serve legal documents related to child support payments on the social network. The practice is more common outside the US, however, and some countries even permit divorce via text message.

We have come full circle from the days of “Do you like me?” “Check yes or no.”