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Serving papers via social media

In order to start formal legal processes, documents must be served upon the other party.  If you want to get a divorce, apply for a financial order or ask the court to determine issues relating to your children, you or your solicitor will need to arrange for the papers to be sent to the other party or parties.  This is known as effecting service.

serving paper via social media

Rachel Read-Hill

There are different ways of ‘serving’ papers including personal service (where the papers are handed to the recipient by someone neutral) or through the post.

Serving papers if you don’t know where the other person lives

If you want to begin a court application, the court will expect that all reasonable attempts have been made to locate the other party.  What is reasonable depends upon the circumstances of your case.  If the case warrants it, the court may be prepared to deal with the application without the other person having received notice.  If there is no such urgency, the court will expect steps to have been taken, such as:

  • writing to the last known address
  • contacting family members
  • contacting the person’s employer

Can papers be served through social media?

Most people now have social media accounts, and this is often an effective way of tracking people down. If you have found a social media account for the other person, you can contact them via that medium to ask if they are willing to provide an address.  If they do not respond or are unwilling to provide details, you can ask the court to give you permission to arrange service via social media.  The court will consider whether there are any other options and whether it is proportionate to allow service via this method. If permission is granted, the court papers can be sent and the case can proceed.

If you are having difficulties arranging service, contact our family law experts now and we will advise what your best options will be.    You can find out much more about divorce procedures and other family law issues on our web pages.

Author: Rachel Read-Hill, family law solicitor.

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