In the recent case of K.I.A. v. J.L. Docket No. C-157-15 (Ch. Div., April 11, 2016), the court held that when service of process cannot be done by traditional means the rules of civil procedure allow an alternate form of service, like Facebook. Rule 4:4-4(b)(3) permits a court to enter an order permitting service by means other than those provided by rule “consistent with due process.”
This is the case of an adoptive parents filed a cause of action against the defendant to enjoin him from contacting their adoptive son, remove information about their son from social media and to contact their family. Defendant an out of State individual contacted plaintiffs’ child through Facebook, disclosed that he was the biological father and contacted the family. In their attempt to serve the summons and complaint to the defendant, plaintiffs’ made reasonable, good-faith attempt to effectuate personal service but were unsuccessful. The plaintiffs made a request for the court to order substituted service of process via Facebook which was granted.
The court analyzed three factors to establish that service by Facebook is proper:
1) Can the defendant be served by conventional means, those specifically permitted by court rule?
2) Is the relief sought appropriate for service by publication?
3) Will service by Facebook still protect defendant's due process rights? He has demonstrated his own Facebook
In issuing their decision, the court was satisfied that after diligent efforts, personal service could not be accomplished. Service by publication would not be efficient given the nature of the relief sought, an injunction to stop the defendant from contacting plaintiffs’ son. The court was further satisfied that the Facebook account of defendant was his as it was that account that defendant employed to contact plaintiffs' son and his due process were satisfied. Finally, defendant acknowledged receipt of the summons and complaint and therefore service was successful.
For more information about Service of Process matters in New Jersey please contact our office at (201) 880-5563, for an appointment with one of our attorneys.
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