Mom's Facebook post = Inadequate notice to negate dad's parental rights pre-adoption

Posted on 11-19-2014 by
Tags: Family Law , social media , Trending News & Topics

Technology-the once “unknown” has become the center of our society and it has been ingrained in the most mundane things of everyday life. It has had its fair share of upsides as well, like launching of Facebook, allowing you to stay in-touch with friends from all over easier. While we like to think technology has made a lot more things easier, there are still restrictions to its power. This is what one lady learned in an article on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog.

Oklahoma Supreme Court was faced with the question of whether a Facebook message alone satisfies that notice requirement in a custody battle between a biological father of a two-year-old child and the kid’s adoptive parents.

According to court papers the father, Billy McCall, and the woman had a brief relationship in 2011 and lost touch. Sometime before giving birth, the mother sent Mr. McCall a Facebook message letting him know she was pregnant. McCall claimed he never saw the message and didn’t find out about the child until a week after it was born. He visited her for several months before a court terminated his parental rights in 2013.

The law in Oklahoma states the natural father of a child born out of wedlock is entitled to be notified of the existence of the child — so as to at least have that opportunity to take responsibility.

The court’s answer to the question came in a 6-3 ruling, concluding that a Facebook message doesn’t satisfy the notice requirement, reversing rulings in lower courts.

Justice Douglas Combs wrote the following for the majority:

“Instead of contacting Father directly, Mother left him a message on Facebook, which is an unreliable method of communication if the accountholder does not check it regularly or have it configured in such a way as to provide notification of unread messages by some other means. This Court is unwilling to declare notice via Facebook alone sufficient to meet the requirements of the due process clauses of the United States and Oklahoma Constitutions because it is not reasonably certain to inform those affected.”

Not all justices agreed with Comb’s logic.

“Why would Facebook be any less reliable than other forms of electronic communication?” wrote Justice James Winchester in a dissenting opinion joined by two other justices. “Does the Court require a face-to-face confrontation with witnesses? Face-to-face discussions can be denied; letters can remain unopened; and faxes can be lost.”

So do you agree with Comb’s ruling? Why or Why not?

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