Same sex married couples can now file joint a bankruptcy petition anywhere in the US
Bankruptcy in the U.S. is subject to federal law – the U.S. Bankruptcy Code – and is filed in federal court. That means bankruptcy cases were subject to the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). That meant, according to the vast majority of courts, same sex couples could not be “married” and file a joint petition. See, e.g., In re Kandu, United States Bankruptcy Court, W.D. Washington.August 17, 2004, 315 B.R. 123. (DOMA limits “marriage” and “spouses” to opposite-sex couples for purposes of federal law). On June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 5-4 ruling striking down portions of federal Defense of Marriage Act. See: U.S. v. Windsor, Supreme Court of the United States, 133 S.Ct. 2675 (2013). Now, married couples of the same sex can obtain the legal benefits of a joint bankruptcy filing in every state. The ruling removes any confusion for gay couples who may have gotten legally married in one state but filed bankruptcy in another state that did not recognize the marriage.
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