Same-Sex Florida Couple Files Joint Bankruptcy, May Challenge DOMA
Brandon, FL (Law Firm Newswire) June 16, 2013 - A same-sex couple's attempt to file joint bankruptcy could end up challenging the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
The couple, who reside in Florida, were legally married in Vermont. When their finances took a turn for the worse and they were unable to pay their mortgage, they made the logical choice and filed for joint bankruptcy. But they hit a roadblock because Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages even when they are formed pursuant to other states' laws.
“This is a question of whether states must recognize marriages that are legal in other states,” said Brandon bankruptcy lawyer O. Reginald Osenton, who is not involved in the filing. “The Defense of Marriage Act says that the states and the federal government need only recognize the validity of opposite-sex marriages. This can lead to confusion and concern for legally married same-sex couples, particularly when they relocate to states that do not permit same-sex marriage.”
Daniel Maltbie, 57, and Garry Houston, 59, hope their joint bankruptcy petition is eventually accepted without challenge. They say they just want to put this business behind them. But if it is not, their bankruptcy attorney, Brian Zinn, says that he will probably appeal. The matter could then move up through the court system, possibly culminating in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Defense of Marriage Act has already been challenged numerous times in federal court. The Supreme Court is expected to rule on its constitutionality within a month.
Maltbie and Houston, who owe about $75,000, stand to save about $1,800 if they are permitted to file a single joint bankruptcy petition as opposed to separate petitions. Both receive disability benefits, and Maltbie receives a pension.
In an interview with CNBC, Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida, said seemingly small court cases can shift legal trends. He highlighted an earlier Florida case in which the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) denied a man in a same-sex marriage a new driver's license with his married name. The man prepared to take his case to court with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union, but before his initial hearing, the DMV apologized and granted his request for a new license.
Osenton Law Office, PA
500 Lithia Pinecrest Road
Brandon, Florida 33511
Call: (813) 654-5777
- When debtors agree to surrender property, they must follow through
When filing bankruptcy, “surrender” means “surrender.” That is the message from Tampa bankruptcy judge Michael G. Williamson in a recent Florida bankruptcy case, in which Lisa Metzler of Gibsonton declared bankruptcy in 2012. She was delinquent on her mortgage and had no way to pay it or her other debts. She agreed to surrender her […]
- Studies Show Divorce’s Ill Effects on Children, but Risks Can Be Mitigated
Everyone who gets married hopes to stay that way forever. But despite everyone’s best efforts and intentions, sometimes divorce really is the only solution. For childless couples, divorce is a decision that does not greatly impact anyone but the couple themselves. Of course, the same cannot be said of parents who divorce. Divorce can have […]
- Detroit Bankruptcy Represents Largest Municipal Case in U.S. History
Bankruptcy is most often used as a way for individuals and businesses to either discharge debts or reorganize them into a more manageable payment plan. But governments, particularly cities and counties, can declare bankruptcy as well for the same reason: unmanageable levels of debt. Municipal bankruptcies are fairly rare. They have happened at the rate […]