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May a Same-Sex Couple Married Outside of Georgia File for Bankruptcy Together in the State?

Until recently, same-sex couples married legally outside of Georgia would not have had the right to file a joint bankruptcy petition in the state. But when the Supreme Court struck out Section III of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June 2013, many of the barriers for married same-sex couples in bankruptcy and estate planning law were removed. Today, same-sex couples in Georgia may in fact file for bankruptcy together if they have been legally married.

The actual federal bankruptcy code has never provided a specific definition for what constitutes a legally married couple — it had been laws in states defining marriage as being between “one man and one woman” that were preventing same-sex couples from being able to jointly file for bankruptcy. Section III of DOMA had allowed states to set their own rules on whether it would disregard same-sex marriages performed in other states.

In July 2011, the U.S. Department of Justice said it would no longer stand in the way of same-sex couples filing for bankruptcy protection together. With DOMA being ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, there were no longer any obstacles in place for same-sex couples to file for bankruptcy.

However, it’s important to keep in mind this only applies to couples that have been legally married.

For further guidance and advice on various issues of same-sex marriage and how they relate to filing for bankruptcy in Georgia, contact a skilled lawyer at Jeff Field & Associates by calling 404-381-1278 or by contacting us online.

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