Even though same-sex unions have been common in Massachusetts and New Hampshire for a while now, the “gay married” crowd has never been allowed to file joint bankruptcies, which often costs them some serious “extra” filing fees and attorney fees.
The reason? Bankruptcy is a federal court, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act instructs federal officials, including bankruptcy judges, to recognize only the traditional marriages.
But that may be changing.
On February 23rd, the President issued an order to the Justice Department to stop enforcing this law.
Since the Justice Department runs the bankruptcy trustee program, US trustees and individual trustees presumably will no longer be able to object to same-sex joint bankruptcy filings.
However, it doesn’t mean that judges have to agree. They are still fully capable of enforcing the DOMA, and the law itself is still on the books.
The result is that the situation could be in flux for quite a while yet. However, if a same sex couple living in New Hampshire or Massachusetts wanted to be a test case and try out a joint bankruptcy filing, now would be the time to do it.
By Doug Beaton