Same sex married couples can now file bankruptcy together as joint debtors, reported by Eric Southward, A Houston Texas Bankruptcy Attorney

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Eric Southward, a Houston Bankruptcy Lawyer, reports about the benefits same sex couples will know enjoy based on the Obergefell v. Hodges opinion which requires states to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.

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The law firm of Busby & Associates is pleased to announce that the landmark opinion by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges late June recognizing same sex marriages has concluded any question of whether same sex couples could jointly file bankruptcy. Requiring states to recognize same sex marriages greatly impacts Joint Debtors’ ability to protect property in bankruptcy. Although bankruptcy property rights and exemptions can be rooted in state law, all bankruptcies are federal matters and this means all available exemptions are now available to same sex couples.

As Eric Southward, Managing Attorney of Busby & Associates explains, “Exemptions are designed to protect the property of Debtors when they file bankruptcy. These exemptions are necessary to allow Debtors to keep all the necessary things to start fresh after getting out of debt.”

Mr. Southward noted that many exemptions are greater or even double when a joint case is available.

Mr. Southward gave an example using the federal homestead exemption: “Currently a single debtor can only protect up to $22,975 of equity in her residence. If the same sex couple has a residence with $30,000 of equity, the Debtor would not be able to fully protect it. After the Supreme Court ruling, this same sex couple could file a joint bankruptcy case and double that exemption. That means they could protect up to $45,950 of equity, which is a lot more than the $30,000 they have in their house.”

Even in a state like Texas that did not recognize same sex marriages, the couple would be able to file. For same sex couples in Texas that are contemplating filing bankruptcy, the Supreme Court’s ruling opens up many more avenues for debt relief and asset protection than they had individually before. Mr. Southward said, “It’s a landmark case and will have ramifications for many years down the road. It’s important for same sex couples to be aware of how this ruling affects their ability to file a joint bankruptcy case."

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Michael Busby
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