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Bankruptcy and Same-Sex Marriage: Your New Rights

Prior to last summer, all gay and lesbian couples were required to file two distinct bankruptcy petitions if they could not pay their debts–despite the fact that they still had to include both incomes for one household on their paperwork. But on June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This ruling granted same-sex couples the same federal benefits of heterosexual married couples. Laws surrounding the right to file joint income tax returns, prison visitation rights, survivor benefits from the government, and the right to withhold testimony against one’s spouse were impacted and revised.Here at Skrupa Law Office, LLC of Omaha and Lincoln, we want to keep you up-to-date on new court proceedings and make you aware of your rights as a same-sex couple, particularly concerning new procedures for filing bankruptcy.

It’s in the Past

Before, the Federal Government, because of DOMA, was required to challenge a same-sex couple’s joint bankruptcy petition. Now, the Federal Government will not challenge same-sex joint bankruptcy filings. Currently 17 states have legal same-sex marriage. In 33 states, same-sex marriage is banned. The decision leaves in place another component of the law which states that no state is required to recognize gay marriages performed in any other state, because that provision was not under challenge.

However, since bankruptcy falls under Federal Law, joint bankruptcy petitions can be filed EVEN in states that do not recognize same-sex marriage.

Making the Best Choice

Filing a joint bankruptcy petition could save you time and money. Filing jointly rather than singly combines your property and debts, discharging them all at once, and you pay just one lawyer fee to your attorney and one filing fee to the court, which could simplify the process and prove more convenient in the long run.

However, just because you now can file a joint petition doesn’t mean you should. If your spouse has significant debt, for example, it may make more sense to file separately, and if you have significant joint debt, filing jointly could still mean that creditors are able to go after you or your spouse. Though one solution may seem like the best choice at first glance, bankruptcy law is extremely nuanced, and each couple’s unique financial situation warrants a closer look.

Contact Skrupa Law Office, LLC Today

As always, it is crucial to communicate directly with a professional attorney before making major decisions about your case, including whether to file jointly or separately. If you have questions about your new rights and whether they could benefit you and your petition for bankruptcy, please don’t hesitate to call Skrupa Law Office, LLC today in Omaha at (402) 999-0247 or Lincoln at (402) 464-3311. Our expert attorneys would be happy to assist you!

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