What Is A Summary Dissolution in California?

Separating you and your partner’s lives is a complicated procedure, and can involve lots of paperwork. It’s common for those divorcing to seek out a divorce attorney, to prepare forms prior to trial and help clients through their case. When filing for a divorce, property, assets, and debt is divided between both individuals; Custody of children must be agreed upon before their divorce is finalized.

In California, any time you seek to dissolve a marriage, it is considered a traditional divorce but is not the same as legal separation. A legal separation is commonly seen with spouses who don’t necessarily wish to end their marriage, but still have court ruling for issues like child custody.

While ending any relationship is difficult, some couples with specific requirements may have an easier and more cost-effective way of divorcing by means of summary dissolution.

Summary Dissolution vs. Divorce

A regular dissolution is the same thing as a divorce, that takes time, money, and typically involves hiring a trusted attorney. A summary dissolution is a less complicated version of the divorce process. Couples who qualify deal with less paperwork, on top of not having to appear in court for a trial. Both must file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution, and must be prepared with a property settlement agreement. 

Additionally, couples will need to prepare a Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment. A summary dissolution will officially end the marriage 6 months after the required paperwork has been filed. Within those 6 months, couples may choose to not get a divorce at all and revoke their dissolution or may find that they want to file for a regular divorce if problems have exacerbated since the original filing.

Requirements for a Summary Dissolution in California

Summary dissolutions have specific requirements regarding their reasoning behind the dissolution. This includes residency requirements, the length of marriage, children from the marriage, marital and separate property, waivers of rights to appeal and more.
These requirements are necessary for a couple to file for a summary dissolution in California:

  • Both individuals agree to dissolve the marriage or domestic partnership due to irreconcilable differences
  • One spouse is required to have resided in California for at least 6 months, and for at least 3 months specifically in the county where the divorce is being filed 
  • There are no children in the relationship, before or during the marriage, or adoptions during the marriage, and that both parties knowingly are not pregnant
  • The marriage has been for no longer than 5 years of the date of separation
  • Neither party owns real estate, or in a lease with options to purchase, unless the lease is terminated within one year from the date of filing the petition
  • Assets or debts acquired during the marriage are valued less than $25,000, excluding cars
  • Neither party has more than $25,000 in separate property acquired prior to the marriage
  • Neither party has accrued more than $4,000 in debt since the beginning of the marriage, excluding car loans
  • Both parties agree to waive spousal support
  • Both parties have read and understand the summary dissolution
  • The individuals both agree the court should dissolve the marriage
  • You waive your right to appeal once the court enters the summary dissolution

Filing for a Summary Dissolution

Preparing Your Summary Dissolution

Married couples must file a joint petition in order to receive a summary dissolution in California. Both spouses must sign the petition that states:

  • Both spouses meet all conditions for a summary dissolution
  • Each spouse’s mailing addresses
  • If one of the individuals would like to return to a former name, and what that name is

Both spouses also are required to fill out and share documents exhibiting property, income, and expenses, including:

File the Summary Dissolution Papers and Settlement Agreement

Always be sure to make copies of your exchanged documents, and the settlement agreement for you and your spouse. When filing your paperwork, you’ll need to complete a settlement agreement, as well as pay a filing fee when you file your petition and other documents with the court clerk. A “fee waiver” is available if you are unable to pay for the filing fee.

You can find your county’s court clerk’s office online, and that is where you will send your petition, required disclosure documents, filing fee, and two self-addressed stamped envelopes for both parties. 

If all legal requirements are met, the court will issue a judgment of dissolution and notice of entry of judgment, which lists the date of your divorce 6 months after you file. You are unable to remarry until the judge issues the dissolution and notice of entry. 

There are no court hearings required for a summary dissolution in California. You will be given a judgment of dissolution when you file your petition and other documents, or you will receive it in the mail at a later date.

Seeking Options and Legal Guidance

Experiencing any life changes can be a difficult and emotional time. Having a trusted attorney to process all paperwork needed can make things easier on you and your spouse. At Azemika Law, we’re here for you with our practice devoted to family law for 28 years. We efficiently handle cases involving divorce, dissolutions of partnerships, child custody, abandonment, and adoptions. Serving all of Kern County, we want you to have the opportunity to make informed decisions from the best position possible during this turbulent phase. 
For complete representation in divorce or domestic dissolution, contact us today to help you create effective resolutions and a better future.

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