Is a Domestic Partnership Treated the Same as a Marriage in Bankruptcy?

Is a Domestic Partnership Treated the Same as a Marriage in Bankruptcy?

People who enter into domestic partnerships receive some of the benefits available to married couples. For example, a domestic partnership can allow one partner to be placed on the health insurance of the other partner. Sometimes a person who has a domestic partnership needs to file for bankruptcy. From time to time I am asked if the bankruptcy court treats a domestic partnership the same way it treats a marriage.

When you are married and you need to file for bankruptcy, you have the option of filing your bankruptcy as an individual or jointly with your spouse. Even if it does not make sense for your spouse to file for bankruptcy with you, your spouse will still need to provide some financial information as part of the bankruptcy process. There is a Trustee assigned by the Bankruptcy Court to review financial information and to question you at your bankruptcy hearing. Even if your spouse is not filing for bankruptcy along with you, the Trustee will need to see the last 60 days’ proof of income for your spouse.

The Bankruptcy Court is a Federal Court. Federal Courts apply the law of the state in which they are located. Although there are certain cities and counties within Michigan where couples can register as domestic partners, the State of Michigan itself does not recognize domestic partnerships. Since the State of Michigan does not recognize a domestic partnership as being the equivalent of a marriage, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Michigan also does not recognize it as being the equivalent of a marriage. Because a domestic partner is not recognized as married by the Bankruptcy Court, the person filing for bankruptcy would not include the income and expenses of their partner.

The above information is a general overview and is not intended to be used as legal advice. The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz has a number of attorneys each of whom specialize in a different area of the law. If you are considering filing for bankruptcy and/or an auto accident claim, the best thing to do is call our office at 248-557-3645 and schedule a free consultation so you can receive advice which is tailored to your unique circumstances.

By: Michael Benkstein, Esq.

Managing Attorney, Bankruptcy Department

The Law Offices of Joumana Kayrouz, PLLC

1000 Town Center

Suite 800

Southfield, MI 48075

(phone) 248-557-3645

(fax) 248-200-0645

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