Its big news in the Big Apple this week that divorce papers have been allowed to be served via Facebook, but its old news for Aussies. The Family Court of Australia allowed service of documents via Facebook in 2010 – a full five years earlier than this recent decision out of the Big Apple that is causing a stir.
In any civil proceedings it is possible to be allowed to serve documents via a substituted means (such as via text message, email or Facebook) with the permission of the Court.
It is important that privacy is not waived by allowing service by Facebook. It is an offence in Australia to publicly reveal the identity of any party or witness in Family Law Proceedings. Anyone doing so faces up to one year imprisonment. Any service via Facebook would need to be by private message only and not appear as a post on a publicly accessible timeline.
Australia and the USA are parties to the Hague Convention on Service which makes it easier to serve parties or witnesses located overseas.