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cfortunato, Attorney
Category: Bankruptcy Law
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Experience:  Bankruptcy professor.
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Can registered Domestic partners in CA file Chapter 7 jointly

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Can registered Domestic partners in CA file Chapter 7 jointly or must they file separately? Are exemptions treated as individuals or as a married couple?

Hi Customer,

I just want to check my understanding of Registered Domestic Partners in California. Is it true that you can file joint state income tax returns, but must file your federal returns separately?

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

As I am sure you already know, Registered Domestic Partners are treated, in all respects under California law, in the same manner as spouses. However, as Bankruptcy is a federal program, Registered Domestic Partners are not treated as spouses in a Bankruptcy court, and cannot file jointly.

I think this is what you wanted to know. If not, please let me know.

Thank you!

Customer: replied 5 years ago.

This is what I thought.

One additional question. How are exemptions calculated? Since we have lived together for 20 years, all our belongings are joint items. Do we each file separately and claim 50% ownership in the items? We also own our business together as General Partners and most of the debt relief is associated with the business.

Yes - even though you would not be filing jointly, each would list the value of all jointly-owned assets (property and cash) as 50% of the total value.
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