The U.S. Constitution guarantees a variety of different rights. One of these rights deals with the right to due process. In a divorce case, this ensures that a defendant in Mississippi is properly notified of impending litigation and given an appropriate amount of time to respond. One out-of-state judge recently had to confront a case in which a woman claims she is unable to locate her estranged husband in order to serve him divorce papers. In a novel ruling, the judge allowed the woman to use social media to serve her husband, while ensuring that her husband's rights are not violated.
While the couple married in 2009, the woman expected that their civil ceremony would be followed by a ceremony incorporating aspects from their cultural background. This ceremony, however, never occurred. Now, approximately six years later, the woman has chosen to move forward with her own life.
Unfortunately, she claims that she has been unable to locate her husband in order to serve him with papers. While she has interacted with him via Facebook, he claims he is unemployed and has no fixed address. According to court papers, he has declined to arrange a meeting to receive the papers. He has no address connected to his prepaid phone, no forwarding address with the post office and private investigators were unable to locate him. After the woman proved his identity to the court, a New York judge has ruled that serving the papers via a Facebook private message over the course of three consecutive weeks would not violate the man's right to due process.
While utilizing social media to serve divorce papers is unlikely to become standard procedure, it could be an option for those in a specific situation when approved by a judge. In this case, it allows a woman to move on with her life despite an apparently uncooperative, estranged husband. A family law attorney can also help those in Mississippi to properly notify an estranged spouse of pending divorce proceedings in order to ensure that everyone's rights are upheld and a divorce can be obtained.
Source: ABC News, "New York Woman Allowed to Serve Divorce Papers Via Facebook", Susanna Kim, April 6, 2015