Did you see the recent news story about a New York woman being allowed to serve divorce papers to her spouse via Facebook? If so, don’t assume that you can do the same.

The first step in an Ohio divorce is the filing and service of a Divorce Complaint. The Divorce Complaint tells the court and your spouse that you are seeking a divorce.

“Service” on your spouse is an extremely important step because the court cannot even consider the divorce request until your spouse has been properly notified.

Under the Ohio Rules of Civil Procedure, the Divorce Complaint must initially be served by the Clerk of Courts using certified mail. That means you cannot simply hand the Divorce Complaint to your spouse yourself, and you cannot have someone else do the same.

If the certified mail is returned to the Clerk because it was unclaimed or refused by your spouse, you may have other options for service such as regular mail or in-person service. In special situations, non-traditional service may be acceptable if it is first approved by the court.

At this point, service via Facebook has not been approved by any judge as a legal method of service in Ohio. However, it is possible that this could change in coming years as it becomes easier to contact people through electronic mail instead of traditional mail.

The good news is that if you work with a divorce lawyer, you won’t have to worry about issues such as service because your lawyer will handle these legal details for you.