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3 Things to Know About Divorcing Over Facebook

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By Mark Wilson, Esq. on May 01, 2015 3:56 PM

Ah, Facebook. The venerable social media giant is over ten years old now, making it just uncool enough for teenagers. It's still out there, though, and recent news suggests that Facebook and divorce are becoming more and more linked.

What's the deal with divorcing people over Facebook, anyway? And why a rise in divorces as there's been a rise in the use of Facebook? There's got to be something that Mark Zuckerburg isn't telling us.

1. It's a Last Resort for Service

It's not like serving court documents over Facebook is everyone's first option. According to CNN, Ellanora Arthur Baidoo tried "for years" to serve her husband, but he couldn't be found. Notably, he appeared be intentionally evading service, telling Baidoo that he didn't have a fixed address or place of employment and refusing to make himself available to be served. After proving that the Facebook account in question was her husband's, the court permitted Baidoo to serve him that way.

Of course, other courts have said "no" to the whole service-through-Facebook phenomenon. Notably, an Australian court said in 2013 that rapper Flo Rida couldn't be served that way -- but only because he wasn't difficult to find.

2. It's Not as Novel as You Think

Defendants trying to evade service of process dates back to approximately one day after we invented service of process. After personal service doesn't work, plaintiffs can try service at work, service by mail, and finally, service by publication. To that end, a Texas state representative has introduced a bill that would allow substituted service via social media if the plaintiff could authenticate the social media account.

But even service through Facebook isn't new. Last year, another judge in New York allowed a man to serve a legal notice on his ex-wife through Facebook. The ex-wife had moved out of her house and provided no forwarding address, but she had "an active social media account."

3. It's Also Causing Divorce, Too

Last year, a study showed that a "20% annual increase in the share of a state's population with a Facebook account from 2008 to 2010 was associated with a 2.2% increase in that state's divorce rate." The problem may arise because affairs can develop a lot faster through social media than they could back in the good old days of face to face interaction. Wouldn't it just be fitting that you can meet your soon-to-be second spouse on Facebook just as you're being served by your old one?

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