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Pursuant to C.P.L.R. 308(5), a court, upon a plaintiff's ex parte application, may direct the manner by which service is to be made. This allows a court to go beyond any of the specifically prescribed methods of service and devise a method that fits the particular circumstances of the case. An application for alternative service under CPLR 308(5) can be granted only upon a sufficient showing that personal service, "substitute service," or "nail and mail" service would prove impracticable. Case law, in accordance with well-established constitutional principles, further imposes the requirement that the method devised by the court be one that is reasonably calculated, under all the circumstances, to apprise the defendant of the pendency of the action.
Baidoo, the wife, asked the court to find that service of the divorce summons via a social media site, in this case Facebook, constitutes an appropriate form of alternative service under C.P.L.R. 308 (5). Moreover, contending that she has no other way to reach her husband, Blood-Dzraku, she requested that this judicially-crafted method of service be designated the only means by which notice of the divorce action is given.
May a divorce summons be served solely by sending it through a social media platform Facebook by private message to an account?
The Court held that in a case in which personal delivery of a divorce summons on defendant was an impossibility and service by publication was almost certainly guaranteed not to provide defendant with notice of the proceeding, service by Facebook, albeit novel and non-traditional, was the form of service that most comported with the constitutional standards of due process.