How to find a divorce lawyer in Cape Town, South Africa

Divorce Summons via Facebook

I had a client the other day who asked whether he can personally serve the divorce summons on his wife.  The answer to that is no.

The divorce summons has to be served by the Sheriff of the Court.  In certain situations the Court will allow the divorce summons to be served by email or by advertising in a newspaper if there are valid grounds to do so.

“Facebook” is quite a popular form of social networking these days.  People all over the world communicate with each other via Facebook.  You can track school friends you may have known years ago through Facebook. 

There is nothing in our law which allows service of a divorce summons by Facebook.  In my opinion in a few years this may be allowed, and should be if personal service by the Sheriff is not possible.

I have been involved in divorce cases where evidence is used in court which was found on Facebook.  One spouse mentioned on his page on a certain day that his relationship with his spouse was “over”.  If this can be used as evidence in a divorce case, I see no reason why an actual divorce summons cannot be served through Facebook.

Recently in South Africa a Durban Judge ruled that service of a notice could be allowed on a man being sued by the notice being placed on his Facebook page.  This matter involved Cecil Schickerling of CMC Woodworking Machine suing Pieter Odendaal Kitchens for R12 600.00 being the purchase price of a woodworking machine called an “edge bander”.

The matter was a contested matter and set down for trial.  The attorneys of Odendaal withdrew prior to the trial date being allocated.  A trial cannot commence usually if the one party is not aware of the court date.  Neither the Sheriff nor three tracing agents knew where Odendaal was.

Schickerling now said the “edge bander” was sold to someone else who also did not know where Odendaal was.  Schickerling’s attorney found Odendaal on Facebook.

The court allowed service by Facebook but said that notice also needed to be placed in the newspaper.  In my opinion this kind of thinking should be applied in divorce cases too.  We often struggle to get a divorce summons served.

Sometimes you have an un-cooperative Defendant who does anything possible to obstruct service.  They even skip the country.  Courts overseas these days are more and more willing to accept service through social media platforms.  I see no reason why South Africa cannot extend this to the divorce pleadings.

A common form of service in South Africa is by registered mail.  The courts allow this.  Often people later say that they never collected the letter at the post office.  Millions of people are on Facebook these days, and the courts should, depending on the situation, allow service of a divorce summons through facebook.

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