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Sending powerful messages through Facebook

In previous posts on this blog, we have discussed the many ways that social media affects our lives and our relationships. Looking at marriages in particular, we have seen increasing numbers of divorce and child custody cases involving accusations supported by evidence found on Facebook.

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For instance, a divorce may be initiated as a result of someone discovering evidence on Facebook of their spouse's affair. A person can get in trouble if he or she claims to have no money for spousal support but often posts pictures or status updates about extravagant purchases and vacations. If a parent repeatedly fails to pick up a child for custody or visitation, activity on Facebook during those times may lead to scrutiny of that parent's whereabouts and dedication to being a parent.

Now, Facebook is being used in yet another part of family law. A recent case was presented to a judge in New York involving a woman who wanted to formally notify her husband she was filing for divorce through Facebook.

The husband had moved from his last known address, had no permanent job, refused to disclose his whereabouts to his wife, and left no forwarding address with the post office. The husband was successfully avoiding the initiation of his divorce by making it impossible for his wife to serve him. However, despite his many efforts to evade his wife, it was the husband's Facebook habit that eventually foiled his own plan to delay the divorce.

The wife informed a judge that despite knowing nothing about husband's whereabouts, she knew he was actively avoiding getting served because they communicate over Facebook. Noting the unique circumstances of the situation and the fact that the estranged husband and wife had been communicating through Facebook, the judge granted her request to send the divorce summons through a private message on the social media site.

This is a highly unusual case and very well may be an isolated result of the judge punishing the husband for being so intentionally evasive. However, considering how heavily we rely on social media, this case may be the first of many cases to deem Facebook an appropriate vehicle for service.

What do you think? Do you think it's a good idea to be able to deliver divorce papers though a social media site? Or do you think they should continue to be transmitted through more formal and traditional methods?

Source: TIME, "You Can Now Serve Divorce Papers on Facebook," Laura Stampler, April 6, 2015

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