The potential value to family proceedings of social media sites like Facebook has been highlighted by a High Court Judge.
The case concerned the adoption of a four year old boy whose birth mother, a foreign national, had returned to her home country and lost contact with the father. He was unable to provide social workers from Manchester City Council or the court with an address for her and so, she had not received notice of the pending court hearing, as required by Part 14 of the Family Procedure Rules 2010.
However, before the hearing took place, the birth father’s partner quickly and easily located the mother on Facebook, made contact, and had a telephone conversation with her during which the mother said she said she had been under the impression that her son had already been adopted.
This prompted the planned hearing to be abandoned in order to allow the mother to be properly served with notification of a rescheduled adoption hearing in which she would be entitled to participate.
Making the relevant orders, Mr Justice Holman remarked:
“I do wish to highlight by this short judgment that, in the modern era, Facebook may well be a route to somebody such as a birth parent whose whereabouts are unknown and who requires to be served with notice of adoption proceedings. I do not for one moment suggest that Facebook should be the first method used, but it does seem to be a useful tool in the armoury which can certainly be resorted to long before a conclusion is reached that it is impossible to locate the whereabouts of a birth parent. Of course, not everyone is on Facebook but, in this particular case, a relatively socially disadvantaged young mother in…has been found very rapidly by that means.”
Cafcass and Manchester City Council children’s department both confirmed that they have no rule against the use of Facebook in such circumstances.
Read the full ruling here.
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