Divorce Notice on Facebook Improper

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By Tera Brostoff

Dec. 12 — A woman seeking to service notice of divorce proceedings to her estranged husband will have to find an avenue other than Facebook, the New York Supreme Court held Dec. 5 ( Qaza v. Alshalabi , 2016 BL 407075, 2016 NY Slip Op 26402, N.Y. Sup. Ct., No. 54308/2016, 12/5/16 ).

Manal H. Qaza’s husband left their home in September 2011 without providing any contact information. According to Qaza, her husband was deported, and she thinks he lives in Saudi Arabia. Attempts to locate him have failed.

According to Qaza, a Facebook profile maintained by her husband lists Saudi Araba as his location. Her counsel said she had been in communication with her husband via Facebook.

The court acknowledged that it has the discretion to direct an alternative method of service of process where normal methods-such as by mail or in person are impracticable.

But the court refused to allow service on Facebook, saying Qaza hadn’t sufficiently authenticated the profile as belonging to the defendant and also hadn’t shown the defendant uses the Facebook page for communication. Indeed, review of the Facebook profile show it hasn’t been updated since April 2014, and Qaza failed to provide proof of communications.

“The act for divorce has a multitude of ancillary affects on the rights and liabilities of parties,” the court said. “The Court must be scrupulous in allowing service by a methodology most likely to give notice not only are one’s economic responsibilities and rights to pay and receive maintenance and child support but rights to property, inheritance and most importantly the Constitutional right to custody and visitation.”

Theodore Alatsas in New York City represented Qaza.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tera Brostoff in Washington at tbrostoff@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Carol Eoannou at ceoannou@bna.com

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