I am in a same-sex relationship. How does that affect bankruptcy?

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same sex bankruptcy consumer bankruptcy

I am in a same-sex relationship. How does that affect bankruptcy?

Two individuals who are not married may file separately for bankruptcy and then file a motion to have the two cases consolidated administratively. It’s up to the judge to decide whether, and to what extent, to allow that motion.

In a state that recognizes same-sex marriages, a same-sex couple might seek to file a joint petition in order to pay just one filing fee. (There is no other difference between a joint petition and two petitions that are administratively consolidated.) The federal Defense of Marriage Act would require the court to reject the joint petition because the word “spouse” appearing in the Bankruptcy Code must be construed as meaning two spouses of opposite gender. There will undoubtedly be a constitutional challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act, but it’s not possible to predict the outcome here. A bankruptcy case, where the fight would be over a mere $299 filing fee for a Chapter 7 filing (or $274 for a Chapter 13 case), may not be the best vehicle for such a challenge.

(Reviewed 11.14.08)

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