If you are gay and in a same sex marriage, bankruptcy help might be available to you in the Northern District of Ohio. This is precisely the circumstance facing a recent client. She originally planned to file bankruptcy alone, but had serious concerns about debt problems facing her same-sex spouse which the spouse could no longer afford to pay.
Recent news coverage concerning the constitutionality of same-sex marriages has included reports that the Obama administration has been unwilling to enforce the federal DOMA act. If this is a fact, does it play out in Bankruptcy Court? The short answer to this for the foreseeable future is, yes.
There is currently no provision in the bankruptcy code authorizing gay and same sex couples to file a joint bankruptcy. Other attorneys with whom I have contact in other jurisdictions have filed for day or same-sex married couples and were surprised that no objection to the filing was made by the office of the United States trustee in their area. I did not want my clients to commit to a joint bankruptcy filing unless I had some certainty of success.
I posed the question whether gay or same sex married couples can file a joint bankruptcy petition in the in the Northern District of Ohio. It took a week or two to get an answer to the question. The response from one of the staff trial attorneys is that there is a non-written directive from above that they should not object to a gay or same sex married couple filing a joint bankruptcy. A directive certainly does not have any force of law. I suppose a non-written directive is simply an instruction.
The information I received is that a gay or same sex married couple filing a joint bankruptcy petition must establish:
- You are a married couple.
- The marriage took place in a state, or other location that permits gay or same sex marriage by law.
I suppose all this boils down to the fact that you will need to provide your bankruptcy attorney a copy of your marriage license so that it can be provided to either the case trustee, or the office of the United States trustee on request. I have yet to file a joint bankruptcy for a gay or same sex married couple, but that is about to change in the next few weeks. I look forward to seeing how it works out, and I will supplement this article, or post another with the results.