Woman granted permission to serve divorce papers via Facebook

A Manhattan Supreme Court justice grants a woman permission to serve her elusive husband divorce papers via a private Facebook message. Is this a sign of what's to come?

Anthony Domanico
CNET freelancer Anthony Domanico is passionate about all kinds of gadgets and apps. When not making words for the Internet, he can be found watching Star Wars or "Doctor Who" for like the zillionth time. His other car is a Tardis.
Anthony Domanico
2 min read

The next time you see a Facebook message notification, will it be a harmless message from a friend or legal notice from your spouse? Screenshot by Anthony Domanico/CNET

A judge has granted a Brooklyn woman permission to serve her husband divorce papers via Facebook, but it's unclear if the decision will set a legal precedent for others who'd prefer to divorce the digital way.

On March 27, Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper granted 26-year-old Ellanora Baidoo permission to serve her husband divorce papers via a Facebook private message after attempts to contact him proved unsuccessful.

This isn't the first time a US judge has granted someone permission to serve legal documentation on Facebook -- last year, one man was allowed to serve legal documents related to child support payments on the social network. The practice is more common outside the US, however, and some countries even permit divorce via text message.

Baidoo and Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku were married in a civil ceremony in 2009, but the relationship fell apart quickly once Blood-Dzraku reneged on his promise of a formal Ghanaian wedding, and the couple never lived together, Baidoo's lawyer, Andrew Spinnell, told the New York Daily News. Both Baidoo and Blood-Dzraku are from Ghana, and Baidoo wanted her family to be present for a formal wedding, her lawyer says.

Spinnell will now send Blood-Dzraku one message per week for either three weeks or until Blood-Dzraku acknowledges receiving the message, according to the court filing. The filing adds that Blood-Dzraku has proven difficult to find because he doesn't have a job, a driver's license or even a fixed address. The last address Baidoo has for him is an apartment he vacated in 2011, but the couple has kept in touch via phone and social media, though Blood-Dzraku has refused to appear in person to be served the official divorce paperwork, the filing said.

Facebook declined to comment on the case.

While it's unclear whether the decision involving Ellanora Baidoo could be used as precedent for other cases, the case certainly raises provocative questions. As requests for electronic legal notices continue to rise, could your next major life change soon be just an email or Facebook message away?