The Attorney General has proposed changes to the way that bankruptcy laws are applied. The changes come on the heels of the Defense of Marriage Act being struck down by the Supreme Court. The Department of Justice now hopes to move it’s policies toward greater equality for all.

He seeks to eliminate the distinctions between same-sex and heterosexual married couples within the justice system. The implications of this decision can be far reaching for Johnson County residents, as it affects everything from criminal law proceedings to bankruptcy proceedings.This has broad implications that include allowing married same sex couples to be covered under spousal privilege. Spousal privilege prevents one spouse from testifying against the other. Same sex spouses of police officers and firefighters who are injured in the line of duty would now be able to take part in the special benefits program that is offered by the Justice Department. Same sex spouses may now be eligible for payments from the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund for those who have been injured or made ill by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

As it relates to bankruptcy proceedings, the Department of Justice will encourage judges to allow same sex couples to file a joint bankruptcy claim. Judges will also be encouraged to require the inclusion of alimony in domestic support obligations that are exempted from bankruptcy discharge.

These suggested changes should not affect the way heterosexual couples currently file for joint bankruptcy. Instead bankruptcy can now be a tool used by all married Americans to regain financial stability in a tough economy. Anyone who is considering bankruptcy should seek the counsel of an experienced bankruptcy attorney.

Source: www.nytimes.com, “Gay Rights and the Justice Department,” February 10, 2014.

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