The Associated Press published an article July 8, 2011 stating “Federal officials no longer plan to contest joint bankruptcy pleadings brought by legally married same-sex couples.” The article then goes on to explain the position shift and the story of the married men in California that were the subject of the case that brought the issue.
So what does this mean, practically speaking? Nothing, unless you’re a legally married same-sex couple in financial distress. If you are a legally married same-sex couple in financial distress then it means that the bankruptcy process just got a little bit easier for you. Instead of filing one petition each, you can file one (with only one filing fee) together. You don’t have to figure out who owns the couch and who owns the kitchen appliances for asset inventory purposes. If you’re interested in filing a Chapter 13 personal reorganization, you don’t have to deal with two separate plans and figuring which debt is going to get paid through which plan.
As a consumer bankruptcy attorney, this is welcome news. Although I’m in Florida where same-sex marriage is not legal or recognized, I see the day coming where a same sex couple legally married somewhere else comes to me for bankruptcy and it’s nice to know that in the Federal Courts I can treat them like I do any other married couple. I know this has to be welcome news for bankruptcy attorneys in states where such marriages have been legal.