FVAP Immigration Case Law
Below is a list of FVAP’s published cases regarding immigration. These cases are binding legal precedent in all trial courts in California, and can be used to support domestic violence-related cases in trial court. But please note: This is not a comprehensive list. Rather, it is a list of FVAP’s published successful custody appellate cases since 2012.
Laws often change. Reviewing this list is not a suitable substitute for legal research specific to your case. Additional legal research should be done before citing any case law in trial court. While a decision below may be used to support your (or your client’s) case in court, it may not be the best decision to use in your particular case, and/or there may be additional cases that you should cite. This list does not constitute legal advice, and does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and FVAP.
To read a decision, click on the case name. See our Legal Resource Library for toolkits, tip sheets, court templates, and other custody resources for survivors.
When Special Immigrant Juvenile Status is denied because of an absent parent; and seeking immigration relief:
Bianka M. v. Superior Court, (2018) 5 Cal.App.5th 1004 In this decision, the California Supreme Court held that family courts do not need to require an absent parent to appear in court in order to issue Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS) findings for an abused, neglected, or abandoned minor, as long as the minor has properly served the absent parent. The Court further held that a juvenile court cannot deny a request for SIJS findings because the minor’s primary motive is to obtain immigration relief. This outcome is important because seeking cooperation from an abusive parent can put the child or the other, abused parent in danger and expose them to unnecessary trauma. (FVAP submitted an amicus (friend-of-the-court) brief) Pro bono co-counsel: Mayer Brown and UCI School of Law
Spousal support for immigrant survivors:
In re Marriage of Kumar (2017) 13 Cal.App.5th 1072. In the first ever ruling of this kind in California, In re Marriage of Kumar ensures the rights of California immigrants who are brought to the United States by a spouse or loved one who legally promises to financially support for 10 years through a federal immigration form, I-864 Affidavit of Support. Our client was brought to the U.S. following an arranged marriage in Fiji. During their brief marriage, she survived domestic abuse, resulting in her husband’s arrest. Husband filed a petition for annulment and, in the alternative, dissolution of marriage, and in response, wife requested spousal support. When husband sought to terminate temporary spousal support, wife raised a breach of contract claim with respect to the I-864 Affidavit of Support. The family court refused to enforce the I-864 Affidavit of Support because our client was not seeking full-time work or working to her “full earning capacity.” The California First District Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s order, holding that an immigrant sponsor is under no duty to mitigate his or her damages by seeking full-time work. In so doing, the Court also noted that a sponsored immigrant is not obligated to file a separate civil action for breach of contract, but rather may seek to enforce the I-864 in family court. (counsel; obtained publication) Pro bono co-counsel: Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe, and Bay Area Legal Aid