A judge in New York City has ruled that a woman can serve her elusive husband with divorce papers using a private message on Facebook. It brings an entirely new meaning to “unfriending,” but it just goes to show how much some people want to change their status to “single.”
The woman, Ellanora Baidoo, married Victor Sena Blood-Dzraku in a civil ceremony about six years ago. They were supposed to have a traditional Ghanaian ceremony (both are from that lovely African land) with families present. He decided to back out of that part of the deal, and the relationship collapsed. Baidoo’s lawyer, Andrew Spinnell, said that because of that the two never lived together as husband and wife, and the marriage was never consummated. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me, dissolving this “union” should take less time than getting a Happy Meal at McDonald’s.
There is just one small problem: It seems Blood-Dzraku doesn’t want a divorce. At least, he doesn’t want one badly enough to allow papers to be served on him. The New York Daily News ran an exclusive on the story a few days ago that read in part:
The “last address plaintiff has for defendant is an apartment that he vacated in 2011,” Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Matthew Cooper told the Daily News. Baidoo, he continued, “has spoken with defendant by telephone on occasion and he has told her that he has no fixed address and no place of employment. He has also refused to make himself available to be served with divorce papers.”
The “post office has no forwarding address for him, there is no billing address linked to his prepaid cell phone, and the Department of Motor Vehicles has no record of him,” the ruling says. “We tried everything, including hiring a private detective — and nothing,” Spinnell said.
So Cooper has ruled that service can be done via Facebook messaging. Badioo “is granted permission serve defendant with the divorce summons using a private message through Facebook.” Spinnell will messenger Blood-Dzraku, and “this transmittal shall be repeated by plaintiff’s attorney to defendant once a week for three consecutive weeks or until acknowledged.”
Avoiding service of a court order is not unheard of. Indeed, Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. made sure he was never in New York on a weekday to avoid being served with two civil contempt citations. These could not be served on a Sunday, so that was when he would visit his district. He avoided them for years.
However, Blood-Dzraku has taken this to a new level. Were it not for Facebook, he would truly be off the grid. In fact, if he didn’t have the Facebook account nor the prepaid phone, he could be declared legally dead in absentia in 2016, and Baidoo could go about her widowed business.
But he does have a Facebook account, and if he closes it, the court will likely deem him to have been made aware of the case. Spinell said, “I think it’s new law, and it’s necessary.”
The first message has gone out. No response yet. Two more weeks, and the case will wind up on the court calendar.
Naturally, there are two sides to this story, and we aren’t hearing his. It’s gonna have to be something pretty amazing to convince me he is anything but an asshat.
Jeff Myhre is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.