Informality and casual attire are part of the American culture. While this typically fits well with day-to-day life in our country, there are always exceptions to a rule. The way you dress for court is such an exception. Your court attire should consist of more formal clothing than you wear in your regular day. Your court attire will make an impression. Whether that impression is good or bad, will depend on you. Our list of Do’s and Don’ts will help you dress for court. This simple hints in this list will help guide you whether you are a witness or a party to an action.
COURT ATTIRE: A list of Do’s
- DO consider how you look. First impressions are important. Don’t let your court attire make a bad impression on the judge for you.
- DO dress in clean, traditional clothes. Men should wear dark dress pants or “khakis” (tan or neutral colored pants that are also known as chinos.) For the upper body, men should wear collared shirts, both button-down and polo shirts are appropriate. Women you have greater flexibility. You can wear skirts or dresses but make sure they fall at or below the knee. Another option for women is a pair of nice dress pants. However, if you plan to wear pants, consider cut and size. In other words, no low-rise or tight-fitting pants.
- DO feel comfortable following important cultural or religious dressing traditions. Courts want to accommodate you. But, DO understand that a large part of testifying before a judge giving him or her the ability to assess veracity (that’s fancy for truth) of a witness. Often that includes observing your facial features and body language. If there are questions about whether your traditional attire will need to be adjusted, simply call the Court Administrator or the attorney representing you to inquire.
- DO cover any controversial or questionable tattoos. Here is a helpful hint. If it may be offensive to any demographic in the country, cover it up.
A list of Don’ts
- DO NOT go into a courtroom wearing shorts or flip-flops. This isn’t beach blanket bingo; this is a courtroom. Ladies, this also applies to you.
- DO NOT wear pajamas to court. In fact, do not wear anything that looks like pajamas. This includes yoga pants, sweats, hoodies, etc.
- DO NOT show off the twins! No explanation necessary.
- DO NOT wear sagging (men) or low-cut (women) pants or jeans. This is important for several reasons; first that look stopped being cute when Mark Wahlberg stopped doing it. Second, people will not take you seriously if it looks like you do not understand the concept of a belt.
- DO NOT make a statement with your shirt. I know, that one t-shirt so succinctly states your life’s motto. But the reality is that your motto may not be other people’s motto. In court, it is better to stick the the facts of the situation and the legal points in your favor.
- DO NOT wear a shirt that does not have sleeves. To be clear on this rule, this means no tank tops, muscle shirts, sleeveless, torn arm-hole shirts or even, yes, ladies, I am talking to you too, tube or halter tops. Nobody wants a ticket to your gun show and unless, you are performing a remake of “Come On Eileen” there is no reason to show us your pits.
- Although not a question of attire, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR TELEPHONE ON! Judges hate being interrupted by the sound of your phone. Better to leave in your car. You can wait to check your Facebook page for an hour.
Remember legal proceedings are serious and can impact your life. You will not win your case simply because your court attire includes a three-piece suit. But, clothing can have a detrimental impact on the way people perceive you. And, if you are appearing in a courtroom, it is good to improve your position every way you can.
What are some Do’s and Don’ts that you would add to our Dress for Court list?
A family-based immigration case has several requirements. You, the petitioner (US relative) must submit several documents and forms on behalf of your non-American relative to secure approval. Today, we will focus on the financial requirement.
To demonstrate financial ability, form I-864, Affidavit of Support, must be filed. The majority of the documents or forms are intended to help prove the validity of the case. That is the case for this form. The Affidavit of Support helps prove your financial fitness for approval of your case.
Many do not understand or ignore this form. But, failure to understand or ignoring this document can be detrimental. First, you intending immigrant relative will not be granted admission or legal status in the US, if he or she is likely to become a public charge. But, no need to worry. Once you read this quick article, you should have a better understanding of the Affidavit of Support.
Standing to file the Affidavit of Support
Before you file an affidavit of support, you must meet certain requirements. In the legal world, we refer to this as “standing.” To have standing or be legally eligible to submit this form, you must prove the following:
- Have legal status in the US as either a U.S. Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident;
- Be 18 years of age or older;
- Be domiciled in the U.S.; and,
- Have an income of no less than 125% above the federal poverty guidelines.
PERMANENT LEGAL STATUS
There are many people in the US who have temporary legal status. People can have legal status in the US; you can distinguish non-immigrant visa holders (H-1B, student or visitor visas) from their immigrant visa holders because immigrant visa holders can remain permanently in the US.
Only permanent visa holders (lawful permanent residents) or US citizens are eligible to sign the affidavit of support. As with most things in life, there is an exception to the rule. Your intending immigrant’s income can be included in the calculation towards assessing minimum support if you are petitioning for him or her as your spouse. However, your intending immigrant must have legally worked in the US. In this case, you can include your intending immigrant’s income as part of the overall household income in order to help meet the minimum poverty guidelines.
Yes, you are required to be over the age of 18. The logic behind this is very simple. Prior to turning 18 years of age, people do not have the legal capacity to enter into a contract (according to contract law.) The government wants to ensure that this contract will be legally binding. Thus, the signatory to the affidavit of support must be over the age of majority for USCIS to accept their contract.
Place of domicile is very important to the approval of this contract. This refers to where you live. For your affidavit of support to be approved, you must demonstrate that your legal place of residence is the US. You may meet this requirement, if you reside outside of the US. You will need to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” (seek legal counsel if this phrase raises questions for you) that you will become domiciled in the US “on or before the date of the principal intending immigrant’s admission or adjustment of status.”
Income requirements. The minimum financial requirements depend on a number of factors. You are required to be above the federal poverty guidelines by at minimum of 125%. There is an exception to this percentage. Active duty service members only need to meet the poverty guideline at 100%. However, this only applies if they are sponsoring a spouse or minor children. The minimum amount required will depend on factors like the number of people in your household and your State of residence. Those residing in Alaska and Hawaii have higher federal minimums due to the higher cost of living for those areas.
Affidavit of Support as a Legal Contract
When you sign an affidavit of support, you enter into a legal contract with the US government. Under this contract, you are promising that the intending immigrant will NOT become a public charge. If the US government learns that the intending immigrant has become a public charge it will sue you to recuperate any monies expended on the intending immigrant. This legal contract gives federal, state and local governments legal standing to sue you. But, it is important to note that not all federally funded programs fall under the public charge umbrella. For more information on public charge issues, check out this great overview by the National Immigration Law Center or NILC.
This contract has been used in the domestic arena to require spousal support during divorce. Below, you will read that divorce does not end the obligations under a signed I-864. Additionally, case law in numerous states over the last few years has created precedent permitting the use of the I-864 in divorce court. This may help your non-immigrant prove your obligation to pay maintenance for the non-citizen spouse.
Termination of the Affidavit of Support
One of the first questions I receive about the affidavit of support is, when will my obligation under this contract end? There are only certain conditions under which your contractual obligation will end. They are as follows:
- (intending immigrant) Becomes a USC;
- (intending immigrant) Has worked or can be credited with, 40 quarters of coverage under the Social Security Act;
- (intending immigrant) No longer has LPR status and has left the U.S.;
- (intending immigrant) Becomes subject to removal, but applies for and obtains in removal proceedings, a new grant of adjustment of status, based on a new affidavit of support, if one is required; or,
- (intending immigrant) Dies.
This contractual obligation can be short or long. An intending immigrant who has been granted lawful permanent residence must wait a minimum of five years (three years for spouse applicants) before he or she can become US citizen. The contract terminates once the intending immigrant relative becomes a US citizen.
Another option for the obligation to end (assuming the intending immigrant does not wish to become a USC), is for the intending immigrant to work or be credited with 40 quarters of coverage under the social security act. This translates into approximately 10 years of coverage. The intending immigrant can be credited with 10 years of coverage if his or her spouse works. The remaining three options for terminating this contract are based on contingencies such as death, termination of lawful permanent status or the filing of new forms.
Final thoughts on the Affidavit of Support
For a quick review and analysis, look at your most recent tax filings. Now, look at form I-864P (Poverty Guidelines.) How do they fit with the government’s requirements? If your tax returns reflect a lower income than the minimum, other options may be available. For more on this, tune in next month to our Affidavit of Support Alternatives post or schedule an appointment with us today.
What questions do you have about the affidavit of support?
You lost your job. The mortgage is past due. You have unforeseen medical expenses. Every day, people experience hardships that push their financial situation to the brink. Barry Vega Law Group may be able to help. Attend our bankruptcy workshop on Thursday, December 7th where we will help you answer the question…
Is bankruptcy right for you?
Bankruptcy lawyer, Bruce Barry will summarize the basics. He will discuss Chapter 11 and 13 bankruptcy. He will provide handouts to help you determine whether this is the right step for your family.
BANKRUPTCY WORKSHOP LIMITED TO 10 PARTICIPANTS.
To attend our workshop, please register by sending an email to us or fill out the contact form below. Please provide us the following information:
- Full name (your spouse’s name too, if you are married);
- Contact information like telephone number, email address, & current home address; and,
- A brief description of your current financial situation (optional.)
Remember, neither attending this workshop nor providing the information above will create an attorney-client relationship with our firm. To do that, you will need to schedule an appointment after the initial workshop and sign a service agreement. However, it will give us the necessary information to help you decide if bankruptcy is right for you and if we are the right law firm to help you with your case.
In today’s society, mobility has become a way of life. For people who share children with an ex spouse or partner, mobility can pose challenges. A residential parent’s life changes can impact a non-residential parent’s ability to have continuing, regular contact with their children. Earlier in the month, we discussed the requirements for sending the Move-Away letter. In today’s post, we explore the move-away letter in detail.
Last time, we explained the statutory requirements of the notice statute, K.S.A. 23-3222. We discussed the move-away letter and the service requirements. We explained what restricted mail and return-receipt delivery meant. Based on the importance given to this information by the Court, the first line of your move away letter should state:
Sent by restricted mail, return-receipt requested
Next, provide the date the letter was mailed. This is important for several reasons. First, a residential parent must “give written notice” to the non-residential parent of “not less than 30 days” before a child’s move to a new residence or for any travel longer outside of the State that lasts longer than 90 days. This language can mean several things. First, it can mean that the non-residential parent must receive the notice of change of address at least 30 days prior to the actual move. As we can see, dates are important to the Court. Thus, my second recommendation is to include the date on which the letter was sent in the line following the restricted mail service.
What do I put in the body of the letter?
The first paragraph must meet the requirements of K.S.A. 23-3222(a.) First, give the non-residential parent the new address at which the child will live. Next, give the date on which that status will begin. Remember, give the non-residential parent AT LEAST 30 days notice before the date that the new place of residence begins.
In the next paragraphs include updated information about the children’s information. Important information to share? Daycare information, new service providers (doctors, counselors, etc.), and updated school contacts. A good idea? Create a paragraph of info for each child, especially if their school or medical information differs from that of other children.
After conforming to the legal requirements, follow standard business etiquette. Parts of a letter governed by business etiquette are the recipient’s address, reference line, closing, signature block, name, enclosures and courtesy copy.
For more information, please refer to my favorite etiquette reference:
Next, end your correspondence in a neutral and respectful manner. This is good advice even when you are “certain” that notice will result in more litigation between you and the other parent. Life is not guaranteed to be easy or simple. Statutes require you to show more than good faith efforts. Before you complain, think, would you not want the same if the situation were reversed? Of course you would. You should show respect and willingness to collaborate with the non-residential parent. This may help you in the litigation process.
Need a sample move away letter? Check out our Facebook page notes at: