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Serving divorce or child custody papers through Facebook

In certain cases, moving through the end of a marriage is a challenging process. This does not always relate to emotional matters; there are a number of practical considerations that can also pose difficulties. One of those is adhering to the rules of legal service set out in the state of Alabama. For spouses who are uncertain of their partner's address, it can be difficult or impossible to serve divorce or child custody paperwork.

In other states, some spouses have sought to solve this issue by serving papers through Facebook. That approach offers no guarantee, however, as courts are not always willing to allow service through social media. One woman recently encountered a roadblock after she tried to serve her husband with divorce papers through his Facebook account. The judge in the case refused to allow such service, stating that matters of property division and child custody are far too serious to risk one party being unaware of the proceeding.

In this case, the wife was unsure of her husband's location. He had left her just three months into their marriage, when she was six months pregnant. She believes that he left the country, but with no idea of his exact location, she is unable to serve him through traditional means. However, the judge ruled that she failed to prove that the Facebook account in question actually belonged to the husband, or that he regularly used it for the purposes of communication.

For those in Alabama who are not sure where to serve legal paperwork related to divorce or child custody, it can be helpful to work with a divorce attorney. Following the rules of service is critical to a successful outcome, and as of the time of this report, social media sites are not widely accepted as an adequate means of service. A divorce attorney can advise clients on how to proceed, and can point them toward resources to assist in locating an absent spouse, if need be.

Source: New York Post, "Judge rejects divorce papers served through Facebook", Julia Marsh, Dec. 9, 2016

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