A March 27, 2015, decision by Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper will allow a woman in Brooklyn, New York to serve her husband with a divorce summons by a Facebook private message. Her husband does not have a permanent address or a place of employment, and has refused to make himself available to be served the divorce papers. He has, however, kept in touch with his wife via phone and Facebook. After exhausting other ways to serve her elusive husband the divorce papers, she filed an application to the Court for service by alternate means – via Facebook. In his decision, Judge Cooper wrote:
“[P]laintiff is granted permission to serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook. Specifically, because litigants are prohibited from serving other litigants, plaintiff’s attorney shall log into plaintiff’s Facebook account and message the defendant by first identifying himself, and then including either a web address of the summons or attaching an image of the summons. This transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged by the defendant. Additionally, after the initial transmittal, plaintiff and her attorney are to call and text message defendant to inform him that the summons for divorce has been sent to him via Facebook.”
While this decision currently only effects those filing for divorce in the State of New York, it will be interesting to see if this alternate method of serving initial divorce paperwork will make its way into the Wisconsin court system. Under the right circumstance, this alternate means of service could offer significant relief for a party with an uncooperative spouse.
In Wisconsin, our statutes allow service by publication if the location of a spouse is unknown or, if with reasonable diligence, the party cannot be personally served. Should you find yourself in a circumstance where you do not know your spouse’s location, and cannot personally serve him or her, there are still options for service in Wisconsin. These laws are designed to prevent a spouse who does not want the divorce from holding up the action.
To obtain more information about service of a divorce in Wisconsin, please visit our website or contact us at 414-258-1644.