Divorce Arbitration in Oklahoma

Arbitration is not often used as a tool to resolve domestic cases in Oklahoma.  It is useful, though, when applied to the right case.  Consider the following advantages and disadvantages of matrimonial arbitration.

ADVANTAGES

Privacy – Arbitration usually takes place in a private office.  No one is present unless all parties agree.  Parties keep control over what makes the public record.  In contrast, Courtrooms are very public places to disclose the private facts that make up most family law cases.

Speedy and efficient resolution of your case – In litigation, the court sets the schedule for what happens when.  An arbitrator will have fewer scheduling conflicts.  You will not be on a docket with several other cases.  Expert witnesses also appreciate not having to sit at the courthouse waiting to be called.  The arbitration can even be brought to them!

A cost-effective process – Arbitration should cost less than litigation in court.  Court rules are cumbersome because they are designed to fit all needs in all cases.  Arbitration can streamline the process.  Examples include stipulations, relaxed rules of evidence and procedure, use of reports or affidavits instead of live testimony and careful use (or non-use) of court reporters.  The cost of an arbitrator should be more-than-covered through reduced litigation costs.

Specialized knowledge – Sometimes a couple will have thorny issues on the characterization, valuation, or distribution of property.  Specialized knowledge of family issues, such as business or personal finance, or family systems, can be useful in deciding family law cases.  Rather than taking an assigned judge who may or may not have such specialized knowledge, the parties can contract to give someone with such knowledge decision-making authority.

DISADVANTAGES

Custody concerns – there is no case-law in Oklahoma as to whether a mediator can make a binding ruling on a child custody matter.  Cases and court rules in other states are not consistent.  While custody matters may be subject to judicial review and approval, the parties can present their custody case to an arbitrator.  A good record in arbitration has a better chance of passing judicial review as being in the best interests of minor children.

Due process and fraud concerns – When considering the rules for arbitration, one must consider the level of trust between the parties to make full disclosure of relevant facts.  Lack of trust between the parties may require use of full disclosure affidavits, or keeping in effect the Oklahoma Discovery Code, which can be enforced in arbitration.

Arbitration has long been used in labor law and securities law.  It’s application to divorce cases is due.  Oklahoma has adopted the Revised Uniform Arbitration Act.  The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers has adopted a Model Family Law Arbitration Act and Rules.  A carefully drafted Agreement to Arbitrate, and choice of the right arbitrator, can lead to a private, timely, cost-effective and thorough resolution to your family law problems

by David A. Tracy

Your Most Intimate Partner May Soon Be Google

by David A. Tracy

If you are using a web-based service for free, you are not a customer.  You are the product.

Web sites that provide a service gather information about you.  They use that information to get advertisers who buy the ads you see on your computer screen.  The more information you provide, the more targeted internet advertising you will receive.  And, the more money your “free” service provider will make.

Making a profit selling ads to place on your computer screen is not inherently evil.  But data mining, text analytics and predictive computer modeling become more sophisticated by the week.  At what point does analytics become an invasion of privacy?  Does gathering this type of data need to be regulated?  How do we balance the value of a service against the risk of exploitation by a service provider?   These are the questions that pit electronic privacy advocates against increasingly powerful commercial interests.

The number one provider on most lists discussing this balance (or imbalance) of interests is Facebook.  Last  week Google became number two on the list, with a bullet.  Google announced it was combining more than 70 privacy policies for various products into one policy.   The new privacy policy grants Google the right to combine your personal information across its various products.  This means your search results on Google-owned services will be further filtered by your use of other Google products.  This includes what you watch on YouTube, what you read on Google News, your posts on Google+, your GMail data, your Android phone apps, images you’ve posted to Picasa, and many other Google products.  The changes take effect March 1st.

Google and others say this change will enhance your browsing experience.  Privacy advocates and competitors are crying foul.  They claim Google’s plan to aggregate its information about you through its many platforms and applications violates antitrust laws and consent decrees already in place.  Expect hearings before the Federal Trade Commission and U. S. Congress.

If you have been using Google products privately in ways you have not shared with your spouse (or your lawyer), your Google, YouTube or other search results could unexpectedly call you out.  Google may soon know more about your preferences than your family.

The new privacy policy has no opt-out provision.  However, there is nothing to prevent you from creating multiple email accounts and associating them with different Google services.  This fix is inefficient, and possibly ineffective over time, but it is your only tool for the moment.

Google and other data vendors will continue to shape and control private web content in ever-more invasive ways. When balancing profit and altruism, expect content providers to tip the scales in favor of profit.  We must remain ever vigilant to protect our private information from misuse or abuse, and remain alert to monopolistic practices in the electronic marketplace.  Resistance is not futile.  We will not be unwillingly assimilated.

Sources

Updating our privacy policies and terms of service, The Official Google Blog, January 24, 2012  http://bit.ly/y4vCXB

Confessions of a Google junkie (or Privacy, What Privacy), ZDNet, January 27, 2012 http://zd.net/xJOUfA

Et tu, Google? Jim Calloway’s Law Practice Tips Blog, January 27, 2012 http://bit.ly/z6Zk9H

Google’s watching you:  the good, the bad, the ugly, Lexician, January 25, 2012 http://bit.ly/wR7JCT

Privacy Alert: Google to Share User Data Across Its Services, Consumer Reports, January 25, 2012 http://bit.ly/yZHFDL

EPIC to FTC: Google Search Plus may violate privacy, antitrust rules, Cnet news, January 12, 2012 http://cnet.co/w0bPc0

Google’s Privacy Policy Changes: Revolution? Evolution? Or Confusion?  Lauren Weinstein’s Blog, January 28, 2012  http://bit.ly/yyxLQV