Future Tense

Manhattan Supreme Court Rules That You Can Use Facebook Messenger to Serve Divorce Papers

Screencap from Facebook

You may already conduct important baby elephant–related business on Facebook Messenger, but the chat service may be eligible for a whole other level of serious communication.

The New York Post reports that Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper has decided that a Brooklyn woman can serve divorce papers to her hard-to-reach husband in a Facebook message.

The judge says that Ellanora Baidoo, 26, “is granted permission [to] serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook.” Baidoo’s lawyer Andrew Spinnell will use her account to send the message to her husband, Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku. And the judge gave permission for Baidoo and Spinnell to resend the message once a week for three weeks or until Blood-Dzraku responds.


Baidoo and Blood-Dzraku got married in a civil ceremony in 2009 but haven’t been in close touch since, because they agreed to also have a traditional Ghanaian wedding before consummating the marriage and living together, but they never did. They communicated by phone and on Facebook. Baidoo doesn’t know where her husband lives. The “post office has no forwarding address for him, there is no billing address linked to his prepaid cell phone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him,” the ruling says, according to the Post. Baidoo’s lawyer says she even tried hiring a private detective to find Blood-Dzraku.

So far Spinnell has attempted to serve Blood-Dzraku once over Facebook Messenger, but he hasn’t responded. Serving people with legal documents on Facebook is slowly becoming more common in New York, though. A New York City family court ruled in September that a man could use the social network to serve his ex-wife with notice related to child support.

If lawyers are serving people on Facebook Messenger, will read receipts become crucial automatic acknowledgements?