Facebook, Family Law and Paternity

Australian Courts are keeping up with technological advances. The most popular social networking site, Facebook, currently with 500 million active users, has recently been used by the Federal Magistrates Court as a tool for serving legal documents.

In the April 2010 decision of Byrne & Howard, Federal Magistrate Stuart Brown allowed a paternity test order to be served via Facebook upon a man, who is the alleged father in child support proceedings.

Multiple attempts to contact the alleged father, and to personally serve the legal documents were unsuccessful. Process servers were unable to locate the man to deliver the legal documents and letters were sent to him and to his parents’ and current girlfriend’s residences, but no reply was forthcoming. The alleged father of the child proved easier to locate on Facebook, but has since closed his profile on Facebook after the documents were served.

Frances Edwards, an accredited family law specialist at the North Sydney firm, Edwards Family Lawyers said today:

“This is only the second time that an Australian Court has ordered service of legal documents via Facebook and while we should see more cases like this in the future, it remains a substitute method of service to personal service.”

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