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Soon, court papers may be served via facebook



If the recent trend set in New York State is anything to go by, service of court papers on potential defendants may just take a new turn, and may be permitted to be done via the social media, like facebook.

At least one Facebook user won’t be “liking” an action from his ex-wife and her attorney. A judge in New York has permitted a woman to serve divorce papers through Facebook in what the attorney says is a first for the state.

Ellanora Baidoo of Brooklyn wants a divorce from a man she married in a New York civil ceremony in 2009. Her attorney Andrew Spinnell said the husband, for unknown reasons, had reneged on his promise to follow that with a traditional Ghanaian wedding ceremony.

So Baidoo wants a divorce, but she and her attorney have been unable to locate him for the past several months, save for his Facebook page and a phone number.

Baidoo never lived with the man and the last address she has for him is an apartment that he vacated in 2011.

“[Baidoo] has spoken with [her ex] by telephone on occasion and he has told her that he has no fixed address and no place of employment. He has also refused to make himself available to be served with divorce papers,” a court official said.

She and her attorney even hired private investigators to find him, including investigating a “false alarm” that he worked in New Jersey, to no avail, Baidoo’s attorney said.

The court official also stated, “the post office has no forwarding address for him, there is no billing address linked to his pre-paid cellphone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him. Inasmuch as plaintiff is unable to find defendant, personal delivery of the summons to him is an impossibility.”

The court, after first asking her to prove that the Facebook account was her husband’s through their correspondence, directed Baidoo and her attorney to serve the divorce papers for three consecutive weeks. After that time, the judge will permit Baidoo to file for default judgment for her divorce.

“She’s not looking for any money. I don’t think there is any marital property. This is a case where a woman wants to move on with her life and marry someone else potentially,” Spinnell said.

The court further noted that “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.”

Spinnell said they served the husband for the first time last week via his Facebook email address and an attachment, as first reported by New York Daily News. And he was served for the second time, though there still has not been a response.


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