An interesting article from attorney Deborah G. Matthews caught my eye and left me with a stark conclusion: When it comes to dividing your marital assets in your divorce settlement negotiations, don’t neglect your digital property. Ms. Matthews’ article isn’t specifically about property division, but it applies:

It is a new world out there. Looking forward, we face a digital frontier with many unknowns. You might know where your digital things are located, but could others find them without your help.

The digital frontier has changed how we access what’s ours. Digital property is often hidden from view. No longer can we simply reach out and touch things.

Examples of digital property would include fairly obvious things such as digital image files and ebooks, but what about your social media accounts? Websites — and that would include not only the domain registration but the site files as well? Your digital information and passwords to shopping and networking sites?

Matthews suggests:

To determine how a site or online provider will treat your data in case of death or incapacity, read the Terms of Service to see whether a guardian or executor may access the data, remove it, or if your site will terminate after a given period of inactivity. Even where an executor may have power over digital property, a court order may be required under the Terms of Service — a costly option. What can you do now?

Loved ones may have no idea what exists or where to find it. The best plan is to keep a detailed list of your digital property with username, password, PIN, security question and answer, and how to access all the required login data — a digital inventory.

Good advice.


Alaska Anyone? (Part I)

by KevinH on September 26, 2013

For years I have heard from people about the lures of Alaska.  From those that have taken cruises there.  From those that have travelled there to fish.  From those that have travelled there to view the landscapes and the wildlife.  As far as I can recall, I cannot remember anyone telling me that they had a bad time or did not enjoy the trip.

So when the opportunity presented itself to travel into the northern climes of that far off state, I jumped at the chance.  I had to see what all the fuss was about.  So my wife and I agreed to go, along with my law partner Brent and his wife Jennifer, on a 7-day cruise.  There are two types of cruises to Alaska:  the outward voyage and the inward passage.  We did the innie as opposed to the outtie.

We would leave Seattle Sunday afternoon at 4:00 p.m.  Travel that night and all the next day before arriving at Ketchikan, Alaska on Tuesday morning.  Wednesday would be the Tracy Arm fjord along with the iconic Sawyer Glacier.  That afternoon we would arrive in Juneau.  Next day would be Skagway, bursting at the seams with 850 inhabitants.  Then a day at sea.  Then Saturday evening at Victoria, a beautiful island belonging to British Columbia but which our taxi driver informed us that the United States “lost” to the Canadians.  I don’t recall ever losing something to the Canadians, much less an entire island, but whatever.

So what would I say about Alaska?  Well, in a word, impossible-to-describe-with-just-one-word.  Alaska is three times the size of Texas, and has a population of about 700,000.  Half of those people live in the Anchorage area, and 85,000 live in Juneau.  I kept coming back to these numbers in my mind throughout the week.  Alaska is simply a land that has been left largely untouched by humans.  And from what I saw during the week, I hope it remains that way.


After a couple of days, I finally was able to put my finger on the feeling that I had been experiencing since arriving in Alaska.  It was a feeling of abundant life all around you.  It seems the climate has a lot to do with that.  Southern Alaska is at the exact right distance from the extreme cold temperatures in the north and the much hotter climates of the equator.  In fact, much of this area is technically considered a rain forest.  Although the Winters can be bitterly cold, the other seasons of the year provide very mild days.  This mildness, combined with the cooler water temperatures of the Pacific, gives the area a freshness that is not possible in other climes.  It is a perfect confluence of conditions that allows nature, and all that it encompasses, to thrive.

We went salmon fishing in the creeks of Ketchikan.  The morning was overcast but beautiful.  The ever-present smell of pine was thick.  The salmon come into the rivers to spawn, and then they die.  The salmon that hatch make their way from the rivers out to the ocean and someday many moons later they will return to that exact river and spawn.  And then they too will die.  As you stand there in the river, with salmon swimming all around, you begin to feel very insignificant.  The salmon swim almost oblivious to our presence.  Your initial thought is that they are not very smart.  But then you begin to realize that they really don’t care if we are there or not.  They are there to fulfill their purpose on the earth.  Its almost as if they are saying “God put us here many eons ago to do this – we are bringing life to this river – who are you and what are you bringing?”  Hopefully they understood our guide each time we would release one of the fish we caught as he said “Now go make babies.”

Go make babies Go make babies


Not long after we start fishing, a bear emerges from the pines about 150 yards away.  He is a black bear about 400-500 pounds.  Our guide says he is “medium.”  I advise him I am quite content with medium and do not need to see “large.”  He lumbers towards the water closest to him, which is in our general direction.  We watch him warily as he disappears below a small berm.  It is not long until we see him again, headed back to the pines after having had a salmon breakfast.  A mother bear and her cub come to the water on the other side of us and much closer.  They linger only for seconds before walking directly away from us and up the river looking for a more private dining area.

And so it was the rest of the week with wildlife.  Seals hanging out on icebergs eating fresh fish.  Mountain goats grazing on grass 2,000 feet up the side of a sheer cliff that dropped straight into the sea.  Whales rhythmically bobbing in and out of the water as they traveled.  Birds gliding effortlessly high over the water as if they could stay aloft forever.  Life was everywhere.  You sensed that you were in one of the most pristine places in the world, and that each animal around you knew that fact and had known it for ages.  And that they were smiling at you like you were a small child that had just discovered that awesome news.  And that if they could speak they would say “Shhhh, don’t tell anybody.”


Southern Alaska, while brimming with life, is brutally rugged.  Waters are bounded by rocky mountains that drop precipitously into the sea.  Some mountains are completely covered in pines while others are completely bare.  In many areas fog is present in the mornings, mostly burns off throughout the day, then slowly begins to gather again in the evenings.  This serves to give the entire place an almost medieval feel.

Fog as we exit Tracy Arm Fog as we exit Tracy Arm


Tracy Arm is a fjord about 45 miles south of Juneau.  As our ship enters the fjord we are immediately overshadowed by scaling mountain walls that are a few thousand feet high.   As you examine the rock walls you can clearly see numerous scrapes, cuts, and scratches, as if some huge being long ago had taken an implement and carved the marks into the rock.  But this is the work of no living being.

As we slowly and steadily travel to the back of the fjord, there are constant reminders of the glacier’s awesome power.  Anything a man could do to a mountain would be paltry and cheap in comparison.  Time is on the glacier’s side.  And it takes thousands of years of slow and steady progress to create the massive landscape changes that exist today.  During the last Ice Age the glaciers methodically marched southward, as far as Nebraska and Missouri.  As they moved, they shaped each and every piece of rock and dirt in their path.  Over the past several thousand years the glaciers have been retreating to the colder nether regions of the north.  The remaining glaciers, while still massive, are only shadows of their former selves.  But their handiwork is all around, both beautiful and awe inspiring.

A runoff near Sawyer Glacier A runoff near Sawyer Glacier


The icebergs increase in number and size as we wind for miles to the back of the fjord.  We finally arrive at the back of the fjord and there we meet the architect – Sawyer Glacier.  The glacier is white at the top with snow that is of an unknown age, and dusted with brown from various bits of debris.  The lower part of the glacier is a brilliant turquoise blue that appears alien to all that is around it.  The blue color is a result of the compaction of snow and ice through the centuries.  The compaction makes the ice so dense that every other color in the spectrum is absorbed except blue.  Even some of the bergs have this deep blue color.

South Sawyer Glacier South Sawyer Glacier


Huge crevices are evident throughout the glacier, and although it is still some distance away, they are clearly hundreds of feet deep.  Ice that has fallen off the glacier has coalesced in the small bay immediately below thereby creating a makeshift ice field.  Seals lounge there and watch us lazily as the captain expertly rotates the ship 180 degrees to take us back out to sea.

(to be continued…)


What’s Venue, and Why Should You Care?

September 26, 2013

In any litigation, including divorce cases, one of the first decisions that must be made is where to file the case. Even when both parties reside in the same state, different courts might have the legal authority to hear the case – which one is appropriate in your case? This is called venue and usually it’s […]

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Woods v. Woods, 2013 Ark. App. 448: Custody and Alimony

September 6, 2013

The Arkansas Court of Appeals issued its ruling in the case of Woods v. Woods on August 28, 2013. It’s an interesting case as it illustrates the way the Court of Appeals reviews factual determinations by the Circuit Courts in divorce and custody cases. In Woods, the mother appealed a grant of custody to the father and […]

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Mom In Trouble Over Goat’s Milk

August 23, 2013

This appears to be a hot month for overreaching CPS stories. This one comes from Maine, and it’s certainly a troubling account, if true: When the baby didn’t take to breastfeeding, Gellerson started feeding him homemade goat milk formula. ”Oh, he loved it,” Gellerson said. “We put celery juice in it, and he just loves that, […]

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Reason: More Transparency Needed for CPS Agencies

August 22, 2013

A recent article on the Reason website calls for more transparency in CPS actions, especially in removal cases. Reason is a libertarian magazine that’s published monthly. The piece in question appears on the Reason website here. The article looks again at the Nikolayev case, about which I wrote here earlier this year, in which California CPS workers removed an infant […]

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Tennessee DCS Makes Changes – Are They Enough?

August 21, 2013

Tennessee’s Department of Children’s Services (DCS) is a troubled agency. This much seems fairly clear. The Tennessean, a major TN news outlet, even created a special landing page on its website devoted solely to cataloging and categorizing the many stories it’s published about DCS problems, legal cases, and outright failures, including a number of child […]

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Atlanta’s CPS Foster Care System Slips in Progress Benchmarks After Litigation Settlement

August 20, 2013

In 2002, the group Children’s Rights filed suit against Georgia officials over the Atlanta, GA foster care system. That suit was filed as a reform class action and was captioned Kenny A. v. Perdue. The parties reached a settlement agreement which was approved by the court, and may be enforced judicially, in 2005. As part […]

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New Bill Would Require Social Worker Credentials for CPS Workers

August 19, 2013

I was intrigued by this news out of Washington (the state): A bill was introduced by Senator Pam Roach, (R) 31 District, Olympia, to require child protective workers (CPS) to be licensed Social Workers. The Washington State Chapter of NASW testified in support of this legislation, SB 5163, before the Senate Committee on Human Services and Corrections. […]

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Baby Veronica Case Update: Father Arrested, Mediation Agreement Reached

August 16, 2013

The Baby Veronica case continues to spin in multiple courts, although recent developments may suggest a more objective and mature attitude being exercised by the various parties to the case. Earlier this week, Dusten Brown, Veronica’s biological father, was arrested on South Carolina charges of custodial interference, as I reported earlier. Today, we learn that two separate […]

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