The Justice Department has announced that it is expanding the federal benefits available to couples in same-sex marriages. This expansion will extend to those states, including Florida, where same-sex marriages are not legal, but only in matters where the U.S. government has jurisdiction.
What does this mean? For example, a same-sex couple that was legally married in California has the ability to file a joint bankruptcy proceeding in Florida, even though Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages. Other federal legal matters that will be impacted by the new policies include prison visits, survivor benefits, and the privilege against testifying against a spouse.
The new policies are another move by the Obama administration to ensure equality after the Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act that prohibited same-sex couples from receiving federal benefits. Prior actions have included allowing same-sex couples to file joint tax returns and to receive veterans’ benefits.
Advocates for gay and lesbian individuals proclaim the announcement to be a decision that will change lives for the better. Supporters of traditional marriages allege the new policies undermine the authority of the states to make their own decisions regarding the institution of marriage.
Please keep in mind that every case is different. If you have questions about filing a personal bankruptcy or a same-sex joint bankruptcy, and would like to schedule a no-cost consultation, please contact our office by completing the form on this website or calling us at (954) 932-5377.