Finding on Facebook …time for social workers to log on?

Yet another sign of the times, in a case reported this week, and picked up by the BT online newsletter: InT (A Child) [2017] EWFC 19Mr Justice Holman was hearing an adoption application in respect of a 4-year old boy in which the birth father was at court but the birth mother who was living abroad, had not been served with notice of the proceedings, as required by Part 14 of the FPR 2010.

It turned out that the simplest of modern-day means of communication was able to track down the mother’s whereabouts when other more traditional methods hadn’t. 

Mr Justice Holman commended the use of Facebook by the father’s legal team, stating:

“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.”

I’m not yet aware of a reported case in which Snapchat, Instagram or Twitter have been used in a similar way in terms of achieving service of proceedings, but it will come soon I’m sure, all the more so if Social workers and those in family law circles are being urged by the judiciary themselves to make appropriate use of social media.

A High Court judge says social workers should make use of Facebook when searching for missing parents.

Mr Justice Holman has highlighted the value of Facebook after overseeing a case in which social workers had been unable to trace a child's birth mother. He'd been asked to decide whether a four-year-old boy should be placed for adoption and was concerned to make sure that the youngster's natural mother was aware of the proceedings.

A barrister representing the child's father had said she had been traced a few days before a hearing by doing a 'very simple search of a public Facebook website'.

'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,' said Mr Justice Holman.