We wrote about the evolving status of same-sex couples in bankruptcy here and here. Now that the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages valid in the state in which they were performed. Although this specific issue hasn’t come to bankruptcy court, it’s clear that the bankruptcy system will have to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling and allow same-sex married couples to file joint bankruptcy cases.
1. Anyone legally married in Minnesota can file bankruptcy together in Minnesota. Any married couple can file a joint bankruptcy case if their bankruptcy was legally performed in Minnesota. This includes same-sex couples whose weddings were performed on or after August 1, 2013.
2. Anyone legally married in another state can file bankruptcy together in Minnesota. Any couple married in Iowa, New York, or any of the other 11 states allowing same-sex marriage can file a joint bankruptcy. It’s not clear how a Canadian marriage, for example, would shake out in U.S. bankruptcy court, but I’m sure this is something we’ll learn soon.
3. Anyone who’s legally married in any of these states can file bankruptcy together anywhere in the U.S. The full faith and credit clause of the Constitution basically says that a public act (such as marriage) valid in one state is also valid in any other state. This means that any same-sex couple married in any of the 13 states allowing same-sex marriage can file a joint bankruptcy anywhere in the U.S.
4. Filing a joint bankruptcy has benefits. Most attorneys will price a joint case lower than two individual cases. Instead of paying two attorney’s fees, a same-sex married couple can now pay one. The same thing goes with for the court’s filing fee. Plus it’s much easier to provide an attorney one set of information, rather than having to handle each case separately. This is a BIG deal.
Have questions about same-sex marriage and bankruptcy? Give us a call.