The Repeal of DOMA and its Effect on Bankruptcy, Explained by Queens Bankruptcy Attorney Bruce Feinstein, Esq.

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The Queens bankruptcy attorney discusses how the latest Supreme Court ruling will affect same sex couples who wish to file file jointly for bankruptcy.

Queens Bankruptcy Attorney Bruce Feinstein, Esq.

Queens Bankruptcy Attorney Bruce Feinstein, Esq.

Same sex marriage is a hot button issue, but it’s important to set the emotional factors aside and look at the legal implications the Supreme Court’s decision has on bankruptcy filings.

This week the Supreme Court reached a landmark decision to repeal a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). This federal law from 1996 prohibited the government from recognizing same sex marriages, even if they were performed in states that allowed gay marriage. DOMA affected same sex couples’ personal and financial lives, and now that part of the Act has been shut down, they are able to benefit from hundreds of federal benefits bestowed upon legally married couples in America, such as pensions and social security benefits.

Another one of those benefits is a married couple’s right to file jointly for a bankruptcy petition. While this Supreme Court ruling does not reflect a constitutional right to same sex marriage, it does have important implications for same sex couples throughout the country. Bruce Feinstein, Esq., a bankruptcy attorney serving Queens and Nassau countries, discusses the effect this ruling has on gay couples who are filing for bankruptcy in New York and elsewhere.

“Same sex marriage in the U.S. is a hot button issue, but it’s important to set the emotional factors aside and look at the legal implications of the Supreme Court’s decision,” says Mr. Feinstein. Section 3 of DOMA stated that marriage was "a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife" and a spouse was "a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife." Even gay couples who were married in New York, which does legally recognize gay marriage, were not seen as married under federal law.

Now, these same couples are set to receive the same rights and benefits awarded heterosexual couples. This includes filing jointly for bankruptcy. Filing jointly means that the couple can file together for a bankruptcy petition instead of creating two separate petitions and two separate cases, saving time and money. Joint bankruptcy filings cover the debts married couples have together, and it doubles the couple's bankruptcy exemptions, which can include property, pensions, and insurance. It also gives both spouses the benefits of an automatic stay once they file, protecting them from creditor calls and foreclosure.

Now, married couples can reap the legal benefits of a joint bankruptcy filing regardless of sexual orientation. And the ruling clears up any confusion or fear of opposition for gay couples who may have gotten married in one state but filed bankruptcy in another state that did not recognize the marriage. Overall, this decision provides clarity and clears the red tape for same sex couples filing for bankruptcy in New York and elsewhere.

Bruce Feinstein, Esq. has spent over 14 years helping individuals and couples file for bankruptcy in Queens and throughout New York. Visit the Law Offices of Bruce Feinstein, Esq. at http://www.bfeinsteinesq.com or call (718) 514-9770 to reach his New York office.

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