When an individual initiates a court case in Arizona or any other state, one of the first steps is to serve the other party with a copy of the pertinent documents. Each state has its own set of rules when it comes to legal service, and those rules must be closely followed in order for the matter to proceed. When filing for divorce, the spouse who files must then serve the papers to the other party. Failure to do so can halt the proceedings, which can complicate matters for the spouse who is ready to move beyond the marriage.
Several recent cases have addressed whether social media sites, Facebook in particular, can be used to meet the requirements of legal service. In a few cases in another state, the judge has allowed service through Facebook. In one recent case, however, a wife's attempt to serve divorce papers using the social media site was not allowed.
The woman's husband had left her just a few months after they were married while she was six months pregnant with their first child. She believes that he left the country and is now living abroad. Unable to locate him, she had little recourse other than to try and serve her divorce papers through Facebook. The judge, however, ruled that divorce is too serious a matter to allow any chance that one party might not be properly notified of the proceedings.
At issue in the case were concerns that the Facebook account in question was not properly shown to belong to the husband. It was also unclear if he made use of the account for the purpose of communications. For those reasons, the wife was unable to proceed with her divorce case. It is unclear how she will be able to move forward or if she will appeal the recent decision. For those in Arizona who face similar circumstances, this case demonstrates that the courts are not always willing to consider alternative means of legal service.
Source: New York Post, "Judge rejects divorce papers served through Facebook", Julia Marsh, Dec. 9, 2016