Joint Bankruptcy Petitions by Same-Sex Married Couples


It is appropriate for this court to clarify its practices regarding joint petitions, in light of the much-publicized Balas and Morales decision, in which the Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California held that same-sex individuals lawfully married under state law are entitled to file a joint bankruptcy petition, despite the contrary command of the federal Defense of Marriage Act.

The Balas and Morales decision is not binding in this court, because it is the decision of a court equal to this court, rather than a court superior to this court.  This court may properly address the issue raised in Balas and Morales only if and when that issue is properly presented in a case before this court.

This court will continue to apply the following practices regarding all joint petitions submitted to this court.

(a) The Clerk's Office accepts for filing upon payment of a single filing fee any petition filed by two individuals who represent to the court that they are lawfully married.
(b) This court does not on its own initiative investigate whether any individuals who represent that they are married, whether same-sex or mixed-sex, are in fact recognized as married under state or federal law.
(c) If any party in interest files a motion or action contending that individuals who have filed a joint petition are not entitled to do so, this court will schedule such proceedings as are appropriate to determine the legal and factual questions raised in that action or motion.