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Columbia Bankruptcy Hearings: “What Do I Wear?”

columbia, sc bankruptcy hearingWritten by Lexington/Columbia Bankruptcy Lawyer, Lex A. Rogerson, Jr.

Your bankruptcy hearing is important.  Whether it’s in Columbia, South Carolina or anywhere else, what you wear can have an impact on your case.  If you keep a few important things in mind, you can dress appropriately for your bankruptcy hearing.

When there are two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, you want to make the big hit.  And when you are the featured speaker at a banquet, you want to bowl the audience over–leave them in stitches.  Say things they’ll be talking about for years.

But when you need to get through security at the airport, you want to pass unnoticed.  Be completely forgettable.  Don’t do anything that will give the nice officers a reason to pull you aside and delay you while your plane flies away.

Think of your bankruptcy hearing as a trip to the airport.

Like at the airport, you’ll have to clear security to get into the federal building.  More importantly, like at the airport, you don’t want to draw unnecessary attention.

Aside from you and your bankruptcy lawyer, the most important people attending this meeting will be your case trustee and possibly a representative from the United States Trustee.  They will ask a lot of questions, but they are ultimately trying to find out a few basic things: Do you own assets that could be sold in order to pay your creditors?  Do you have sufficient income to pay toward your debt?  Are you honest?  Are you acting in good faith?

These people don’t know you, but their impression of you matters.  They will be sizing you up, starting with the appearance you make.

For this reason, you should try not to look flashy.  Avoid fancy or highly stylized clothes.  Leave the spike heels and three-piece suits at home.  And avoid clothing that is provocative or revealing–no low-cut tops or short-short skirts.

The ideal way to dress is business casual.  Men might wear dress or khaki pants with a woven sport or dress shirt open at the collar.  Suits and ties are not required nor particularly helpful.  Jeans are tolerated but not ideal, and shorts should be avoided.  Women should wear a plain skirt or slacks with a conservative blouse or top, or a simple dress.  Flat shoes are generally preferable.

Jewelry is fine in moderation.  You don’t have to leave your watch at home, and if you always wear your wedding ring, don’t take it off for this occasion.  But don’t go overboard.  And bear in mind you trustee is going to notice if you appear wearing jewelry that you have not listed in your schedules.  So if you haven’t listed it, tell your bankruptcy lawyer and have him list it for you.

We all know stories about this happening, and it can be more than embarrassing.  You have a moral and legal obligation to disclose everything you own, and failing to do so can result in dismissal of your bankruptcy case or even criminal charges.  So make sure you fully tell your lawyer before you file about all jewelry you own.

In short, you will find your Columbia bankruptcy hearing goes much smoother if you fly below the radar and follow these tips.

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