What Is a Summary Dissolution and How Do I Qualify?

Divorce proceedings can be extremely complicated and involve extensive amounts of paperwork. Many people pursuing divorce seek professional help from an experienced divorce attorney to prepare necessary forms before trial and assist clients through proceedings.

When filing for divorce, property, assets, and debt need to be divided, and custody of any children must be agreed upon before the divorce can be finalized. This takes time, money, and usually requires an attorney. However, there is a separate divorce proceeding known as a Summary Dissolution available to couples without many complications.

What is a Summary Dissolution?

While a regular dissolution is the same thing as a divorce, a summary dissolution is a shortened version of the process. Couples who qualify for a summary dissolution are not required to fill out as much paperwork, and they do not need to appear in court for a trial. Both spouses must file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution and prepare it with a property settlement agreement.

Additionally, couples must prepare and submit a Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment, which will officially end the marriage within 6 months after the original paperwork is filed. During the 6 months, the couple may choose to revoke the dissolution if they decide they don’t want a divorce, or they may escalate to a regular divorce if problems arise.

The state of California provides a booklet to those seeking a summary dissolution, which walks through the process with helpful worksheets for dividing assets. This booklet is mandatory and both parties must read and sign it. A Summary Dissolution still requires fees, but it is usually cheaper and avoids unnecessary paperwork.

Who Qualifies for a Summary Dissolution?

Summary dissolutions have strict eligibility guidelines, and each of them must be met in order to proceed. The requirements are as follows:

  • One of you has lived in California for at least 6 months, and in your particular county for at least 3 months before the petition can be filed.
  • Both parties agree to a summary dissolution, and both agree upon grounds of irreconcilable differences.
  • You have no children together under the age of 18, and are not expecting any children within the time frame of the divorce.
  • The marriage has lasted 5 years or less.
  • Neither party owns real estate or is in a lease with the option to purchase.
  • Community property is valued at less than $40,000. Community property is defined as any assets or debts acquired during the marriage. Cars are excluded from this value.
  • Neither party has more than $40,000 in separate property. Separate property is defined as any property acquired before the marriage.
  • Neither party has incurred more than $6,000 in debt since the beginning of the marriage. Car loans do not count towards this figure.
  • Both parties agree to waive spousal support (alimony).
  • Both parties must read and sign the aforementioned booklet provided by the state.

When filing, you will need to include paperwork which divides debt, community property, separate property, and submit a property settlement agreement. After the six month waiting period, the court will enter a judgment officially dissolving the marriage. Parties do not have to appear in court for this judgment, and afterwards, they are free to remarry.

Summary dissolutions can be the right option for many couples seeking a change. To find out if you may qualify for a summary dissolution, or to get started in the process, contact Boyd Law Firm today. We are full-service law firm specializing in family law, divorce, business law, and bankruptcy.