Global Vision and Cultural Literacy
Woodruff Family Law Group has a global vision of inclusion of all cultures that touch on individuals and families with a North Carolina nexus. That nexus can arise in many family situations. You may live abroad, but you have a child, spouse, former spouse, or grandchild residing in North Carolina. You may live in North Carolina with a green card or work visa. Or you may be a U.S. citizen with a rich cultural international background.Countries
Our attorneys have experience dealing with family law cases involving most international cultures. While we are located in Greensboro, North Carolina, we have had clients with a relevant nexus to the following countries, continents, and their cultures.
- Colombia, South America
- United Kingdom
- European Union, most countries
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
- South Africa
Your family law matter may have an international nexus that requires unique expertise for any number of reasons. We outline some of these global issues below, but the list is not exhaustive, and we encourage an initial consultation to discuss your particular international situation.
- We understand cultural or international issues that arise in North Carolina child custody cases or cases under the Hague treaty related to international child abduction. We understand how your cultural background may affect a standardized test, such as the MMPI II, frequently given in child custody evaluations.
- The property division case may be in North Carolina, but there may be assets or liabilities in other countries.
- We understand how to accommodate your needs for video appointments and time zones, and we can handle your case appropriately during your waking hours, wherever you are located.
- We understand expatriate income tax returns.
- We understand the devastation of foreign divorces that exclude pension and retirement funds with a situs in the U.S., and we can take appropriate steps to protect your rights.
- We understand international child visitation with parents and grandparents.
- We understand Support Affidavits related to immigration and all immigration categories, although we do not do immigration law.
- We understand how domestic violence can cause deportation.
- We understand language barriers and can assist in finding translators if you do not have family that can help with attorney meetings. The court has official translators for court matters, and we understand that application process.
- We understand international child abduction and the necessary safeguards, particularly with non-Hague countries.
- We understand parents with children in U.S. boarding schools.
- We understand your rich cultural and international background, and we honor it.
We analyze cultural diversity issues in terms of four factors from Hofstede's cultural values framework: power, individualism, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity (Hofsteade, G., 2001).
Hofstede analyzed power on a continuum from high to low. High power countries, such as India and China, view authority as concentrated at the top and authoritative; people may expect to be told what to do, which is a more autocratic approach. The United States is categorized as low in power needs, with collaboration and a more democratic approach.
In high power structures, children are expected to obey parents and elders and to show respect. A high-power structure would not likely challenge the role of a teacher's authority, as contrasted with the American structure that would see everyone as equal and would challenge the authority of a teacher, for example. Your background on power may affect your view of the North Carolina court system's authority.
Individualism and Collectivism
Collectivism focuses on the family group as a whole unit, and it is important to be part of the in-group. The group as a whole is measured for success. Individualism focuses on the individual and rewards individual achievement. The Chinese family is likely low in individualism and focuses on the family group and extended family. A child is born as part of that extended family, and access to extended family is important. Regardless of the religion of the Chinese family, Confucian respect of elders is present and must be honored. Americans are generally low in collectivism and focus on the individual. Explaining this part of cultural diversity may be important to your case in the arguments of your attorney to make sure the judge understands these points of cultural diversity.
Uncertainty avoidance rates the culture's natural inclination toward risk and unpredictable situations, such as an unpredictable outcome in court. A high score on the uncertainty continuum means that the culture seeks to avoid risk. Low scores embrace risk. Let's face it, court resolution is always a risk in the United States and can be quite unpredictable. Americans are more likely to embrace risk than immigrants from Mexico, France, Spain, or Greece, whose cultures do not embrace risk.
The final Hofstede dimension is masculinity and the view of gender roles. In high masculinity cultures, gender roles are very clear, and work is a priority. Persons in high-masculinity cultures may work more hours to achieve more status and money. Low-masculinity cultures, such as France and Spain, embrace leisure. Because the Hofstede studies involved work situations, one has to be cautious on application of the masculinity factor to child custody situations. In North Carolina, there is no preference for a parent based upon gender of the parent. Men can receive spousal support from women, and the family laws of North Carolina embrace all gender orientations equally and fairly.Conclusion
Woodruff Family Law Group has a global perspective and will look at all aspects of your case, including any rich cultural background and needs. We will work with your international schedule and your unique international assets. If you are looking for a global perspective, we are the law firm for you.References
Hofstede, G., "Cultural consequences: Comparing values, behaviors and institutions across nations," 2d edition, 2001, Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage Publications.