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All is Fair in Love, War and Facebook

All is Fair in Love, War and Facebook
(AP)

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Tuesday, 15 March 2016 09:43 AM Current | Bio | Archive


Facebook is a tool most commonly used for reconnecting with old friends, learning about potential job opportunities and keeping up with distant family members — but it can also be used to gain the upper hand in legal proceedings.

“With the quick progression of technology, it is hard to imagine that social media will not continue to play a larger role in legal proceedings,” said Christian Badali, a family law attorney at Weber Gallagher in Pennsylvania.

When Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper reportedly granted a Brooklyn nurse permission to serve her husband with a divorce summons using a private message through Facebook, social media sites became fair game in the justice system.

“We may very well see legal papers being served through other social media platforms like Instagram especially if there is a record of communication through both parties,” said Jacqueline Newman, a matrimonial lawyer in New York.

But that’s only if a person has exhausted all other means to serve their spouse. Justice Cooper did not say that posting on Facebook is permissible under normal conditions. 

Rather, the judge’s ruling is that when a person has made diligent efforts to find a defendant or ex-spouse but is unsuccessful, they can then apply to the court for alternate service.

“The nurse in this case didn’t have an address where her husband could be reached and the only means of communication where he would respond was through Facebook,” Newman told Newsmax.

However, the judge did not say that posting on Facebook is permissible under normal conditions, according to Sari Friedman, a partner with Friedman and Friedman law firm in New York.

Instead, the judge’s ruling is that when a person has made diligent efforts to find a defendant or ex-spouse but is unsuccessful, they can then apply to the court for alternate service.

“Diligent effort is subject to determination by the judge but normally requires reasonable efforts expected to locate a person,” Friedman said. “That can include asking family and friends of his or her whereabouts.”

Courts have traditionally instructed a plaintiff to publish a notice in the newspaper as an alternative means of serving notice.

“Suggesting a Facebook notice to an active address makes sense because it is more likely to be received by the person you are seeking to serve than publication in a random newspaper,” said Friedman.

Now that Judge Cooper has ruled using Facebook as a means of service is acceptable, it’s only a matter of time and technology before future disgruntled spouses can serve divorce documents through other social media sites.
 
“Privacy is definitely affected greatly by the use of technology for process service but society understands that technology comes with a price,” Badali told Newsmax. “That price is frequently less privacy. Many may not be happy about that but it is the reality of modern times.”

Although Twitter is considered a public arena, the site lacks certain caveats to be an effective means to serve notice of a lawsuit.

“Twitter would not permit the actual attachment of documents to a tweet or direct message,” said Badali. “A link to the divorce complaint would be necessary to serve via Twitter.”

By using Facebook, which mandates read receipts, plaintiffs can document that the complaint was received.

“Other social media sites do not allow for or mandate read receipts by the receiver therefore there is no mechanism to recognize whether a spouse actually received the divorce complaint,” Newman said.

In addition to providing an alternative means of service, Facebook and other social media sites are increasingly providing the means for attorneys and their clients to catch people in lies or to bolster arguments.

“Many cases that are currently litigated involve some form of social media, usually Facebook,” Badali said. “Whether it is a post about a parent being somewhere he or she should not be or pictures of a spouse engaging in questionable conduct, Facebook often makes it into the courtroom.”

Juliette Fairley is an author, lecturer and TV host based in New York. To read more of her work, Click Here Now.

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Facebook is a tool most commonly used for reconnecting with old friends, learning about potential job opportunities and keeping up with distant family members but it can also be used to gain the upper hand in legal proceedings.
facebook, social media, economy, attorney
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2016-43-15
Tuesday, 15 March 2016 09:43 AM
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