Thursday, July 22, 2010

Bankruptcy Filings Up 25 Percent in Mass.

Here's the article link.
Bankruptcy filings up 25 percent, year-over-year. "Massachusetts bankruptcy filings spiked 25 percent in the first half of the year when compared to the same period in 2009."

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Defense of Marriage Act Declared Unconstitutional

The big legal news of the day is that Judge Tauro of the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts (Boston) declared the federal Defense of Marriage Act ("DOMA"), 1 USC sec. 7, unconstitutional. The case is styled Gill v. Office of Personnel Management, et al. (link opens .pdf opinion). The case was brought by same-sex spouses married under Massachusetts law. The Court held that "DOMA as applied to Plaintiffs violates the equal protection principles embodied in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution."
On the federal level, DOMA limits the recognition of marital rights to heterosexual spouses. The Court held that Congress' reasons for enacting the law bore no rational relationship to the goals it set. The Court also expressed a strong sentiment that the federal government should stay out of the business of defining marriage because that is the traditional and exclusive purview of the States.
I recently wrote about same-sex spouses and some of the special issues they face in bankruptcy, such as that DOMA has been interpreted to bar such spouses from filing joint bankruptcy petitions which, among other things, increases the overall cost of bankruptcy. That may change now, and I would like to bring a test case if presented with the right clients. Judge Tauro's opinion is not binding on the bankruptcy court and it may yet be appealed. However, it broke new ground and will carry considerable weight when used to support a challenge to a joint bankruptcy petition on behalf of same-sex spouses.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Bankruptcy Meeting Locations in Massachusetts

All bankruptcies involve a court meeting. Where that meeting takes place depends on the place you live at the time your bankruptcy case is filed. It's sadly a little confusing, and people ask about it all the time, so I'll set it all out here as clearly as possible.

Chapter 7 cases, Boston:
If you live in Suffolk or Norfolk County, you will have your court meeting in Boston.
If you live in Essex County, but not in Andover, Boxboro, Bradford, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, or North Andover, then you will also have your meeting in Boston.
If you live in any of the following towns in Middlesex County you will also have your meeting in Boston: Arlington, Ashland, Belmont, Burlington, Cambridge, Everett, Framingham, Holliston, Lexington, Lincoln, Malden, Medford, Melrose, Natick, Newton, North Reading, Reading, Sherborn, Somerville, Stoneham, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Weston, Wilmington, Winchester and Woburn.
Chapter 7 cases, Brockton:
If you live in Plymouth, Bristol, Barnstable, Dukes, or Nantucket county, you will have your court meeting in Brockton.
Chapter 7 cases, Worcester:
If you live in Worcester county, you will have your court meeting in Worcester.
If you live in Andover, Boxboro, Bradford, Haverhill, Lawrence, Methuen, or North Andover (in Essex county), you will have your court meeting in Worcester.
If you live in any town in Middlesex county except for those listed above, you also will have your court meeting in Worcester. This is the one that gets people because quite a few towns relatively close to Boston end up getting assigned to Worcester (Concord, just for example).
Chapter 13 cases:
Chapter 13 cases are just the same as Chapter 7 cases except that no one goes to Brockton. If you would be assigned to Brockton, you are just assigned to Boston.

That's all. There are other rules involving Springfield, Pittsfield, etc., but I have not idea what these are we do not practice in Western Mass.
The specific meeting locations in Boston, Brockton, and Worcester change from time to time. Current information about the bankruptcy court locations in Massachusetts can be found via a google search or by clicking on the link in this sentence (which goes to our main bankruptcy web site).