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Filing for bankruptcy protection isn’t something that same-sex married couples have been able to take advantage of to help take control of their financial future after debt takes hold of them. That is all changing, according to a memo given out by Attorney General Eric Holder.

According to the memo directed at the U.S. Department of Justice employees, same-sex couples who are married will be afforded the same recognition as opposite-sex married couples. For couples in Florida, this extension of rights is historic. It was made possible when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act that limited the federal definition of marriage to only heterosexual couples. The Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security have also instituted similar changes based upon the acknowledgment of same-sex marriage on a federal level.

The extension of these rights applies to various aspects of court proceedings. Same-sex married couples can file for bankruptcy together. They will also be able to claim spousal privilege in court proceedings. On top of those rights, same-sex couples who are married can have visitation privileges in hospitals and prisons.

Being able to file for bankruptcy protection, including Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and Chapter 13 bankruptcy protection, as a couple might mean that same-sex married couples who are deeply in debt can get some debt relief as a couple instead of having to go through the bankruptcy system alone. If you are facing mounting debts and need to seek bankruptcy protection, it might be possible to gain some insight into the proceedings, rights and responsibilities by speaking to a Florida bankruptcy attorney.

Source: WJTC, “With Memo, Married Same-Sex Couples In Florida Get Federal Protections” Patrick Donges and Melissa Ross, Feb. 11, 2014