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Divorce courts do respond to the need to change with the times

Over the past decade social networking websites such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have become an integral part of our lives. With 1.44 billion active users, Facebook is the without a doubt one of the most popular and well-known social networking websites. The impact of social networking websites has even trickled into the realm of family law, with the term "Facebook divorce" becoming a common utterance upon family lawyers.

Due to the plethora of information shared on social networking websites, it is no surprise that the information found or discovered on these websites has the ability to spark breakups. Courts in most states will even accept posts made on social media sites as evidence in divorce proceedings. In fact, information found on an individual's social networking profile can often be used to bolster claims in child custody disputes. As such, it is especially important to be cautious of not only what you post on social media, but also what others post about you, as this information can be used as evidence in a divorce proceeding.

While courts have begun regularly accepting the use of Facebook as a weapon in litigated matters, there is some movement towards the use of Facebook in an effort to facilitate a smoother dissolution process. The most recent example of this occurred in New York where a Judge ruled that a New York City woman could serve her husband with a divorce summons via Facebook.

In that case, the parties were married in a civil ceremony in 2009, but the marriage was never consummated and the parties never lived together. In fact, the parties only kept in touch through social media and the occasional phone call. Even after seeking the assistance of a private investigator, an address for the man could not be found.

In order to start a dissolution proceeding, divorce papers need to be served. This becomes extremely tricky when your spouse cannot be located and he refuses to make himself available to be served. Last month the Judge ruled that the woman could implement Facebook in her attempts to serve her husband. In making the decision, the Judge noted that this approach "should not be rejected simply because it is novel or non-traditional. This is especially so where technology and the law intersect." At this point, there has been no word as to whether or not this approach has been successful but it will be interesting to see whether other states will follow New York's lead in allowing social networking websites to serve as a procedural tool when all other traditional avenues have been exhausted.

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