In a legal first Facebook has been used to track down a missing mother who was due to appear in adoption proceedings.
The Family Court had been unable to track down the mother to serve notice of proceedings as required by Part 14 of the FPR 2010, according to reports.
But with the help of social media platform Facebook, the birth father’s partner was able to trace the birth mother by searching for her in the website’s directory. The Judge heard how the partner had messaged the mother directly and was able to procure a home address as well as a contact telephone number.
It later emerged that the birth mother had believed that her son had already been adopted.
Judge Holman abandoned current proceedings so that the birth mother could appropriately react to the serving of formal proceedings, but not before commenting on the resourceful use of social media.
“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,” he said.
“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 has been found very rapidly by that means.”
Cafcass, the independent child protection service, confirmed that there was no rule or regulation regarding the use of social media when seeking to identify the whereabouts in these circumstances.