In a ruling made by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper, Ellanora Baidoo of New York City was granted permission to serve her husband divorce paperwork through a private message on Facebook.
Baidoo’s husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku does not have a job and has not had a mailing address since 2011. The post office has no forwarding address for him, the DMV has no record of him, and there is no billing address linked to his pre-paid cell phone. According to Baidoo, she only communicates with her husband via cell phone and social media; he has refused to make himself available to be served with divorce papers. Her husband’s elusiveness has proved difficult for her lawyer as he has attempted multiple times to contact him in regards to divorce proceedings.
The Court has ruled that Baidoo’s lawyer is to contact her husband through Facebook’s private messenger once a week for three consecutive weeks or until the message is acknowledged by Blood-Dzraku. When asked about the ruling, Baidoo’s attorney, Andrew Spinnell stated “I think it’s new law, and it’s necessary.”
Serving legal papers over Facebook is common practice in Australia and Europe, and has also been done before in the United States. Back in September 2014, a Family Court official in Staten Island ruled that Noel Bisocho would use Facebook to serve his ex-wife legal notice that he no longer wished to pay child support. Once Bisocho’s son turned 21, he looked to cancel his court ordered $440 a month child support payment but contacting his ex-wife proved fruitless. She had moved and left no forwarding address, and a Google search also led to dead ends. The only contact Bisocho had with his ex-wife was through Facebook.
The Court ruled that it was impracticable for Bisocho to serve his ex-wife personally, therefore allowing him to send legal notice through a Facebook message. New York attorney Michael Stutman believes that “the idea that physically handing someone a piece of paper is the only way to serve notice is archaic.”
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Partner at John F. Schutz, P.L.
Representing clients exclusively in family law cases for the past 24 years, Mr. Schutz is widely regarded as a marital and family law expert. He is Board Certified in marital and family law by The Florida Bar. As a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), Mr. Schutz is committed to elevating the standards and improving the practice of family law.
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