The process of divorce is notoriously challenging and has the possibility to drag out much longer than anticipated. For a married couple who no longer wishes to be married, this process can often times be emotionally and financially draining. However, in California, Summary Dissolution is a way to simplify divorce proceedings and is an option that can save couples who are able to work together save time, money, and stress compared to the traditional divorce process.
What is Summary Dissolution?
Summary Dissolution is an efficient divorce process that is designed for couples who have a relatively simple and amicable separation. It offers a faster and more straightforward way to end a marriage without the need for a lengthy court battle. This process does not require formal court hearings or appearances and allows a judgment of dissolution to be made six months after filing a joint petition.
Requirements for Eligibility of Summary Dissolution
Before considering Summary Dissolution, couples must meet the specific eligibility requirements set forth in California Family Code section 2400.
Residency- The jurisdictional requirements of California Family Code section 2320 must be met, so either you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least six months and in the county where you plan to file for at least three months before starting the process.
Marriage Length- The marriage must have lasted for less than five years from the date of marriage to the date of separation.
Grounds for Separation- Irreconcilable differences that are irreparable are the cause of the breakdown of the marriage.
No Children- If you have children together or either spouse is pregnant, you are not eligible for Summary Dissolution. This process is only for childless couples or those who have no intention of having children together.
No Real Property Interests- Neither spouse can have any interest in real property, with the exception of a residential lease that terminates within one year of filing for Summary Dissolution.
Community Property and Separate Property Limits- The total value of community property (assets acquired during the marriage) must be less than $25,000, excluding vehicles. Additionally, the separate property of either spouse, excluding vehicles and encumbrances, must be less than $25,000.
Maximum Debts- The combined debt of both spouses, excluding debt from a car loan, cannot exceed $4,000.
Process of Summary Dissolution
If the eligibility requirements are met, the process of Summary Dissolution begins with preparing the necessary forms and filing a joint petition.
This process also requires both spouses to complete and exchange preliminary financial disclosures. This involves disclosing all income, expenses, assets, and debts within 60 days of filing the initial forms for Summary Dissolution. You can learn more about preliminary disclosures here. These preliminary financial disclosures are the same disclosures required in traditional divorce proceedings, however, in a Summary Dissolution, the parties do not have to complete and exchange final financial disclosures.
This process also requires spouses to agree on the division of assets and debts and waive certain rights such as: spousal support, trial, and appeal.
Once the proper forms have been filed, financial disclosures have been exchanged, the Summary Dissolution requirements have been met, and six months have passed from the date you filed the joint petition, the court may enter judgment to dissolve the marriage and restore each spouses status to single.
Choosing The Process That Is Right For You
Summary Dissolution is a great tool for couples who meet certain criteria and wish to amicably terminate their marital status. It is important to note that Summary Dissolution is not always the best option of the bunch depending on a person or couples specific circumstances so it is important to speak with a qualified attorney if you are considering this option. The Certified Family Law Specialists at Harris & McKeown Law Firm have over 10 years of experience in assisting clients with their family law needs.
If you are located in Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, or Los Angeles County and you want to discuss your options so that you may determine which process is best for you, schedule a consultation appointment here or by calling (949) 297-6529.
THIS INFORMATION IS PROVIDED FOR INFORMATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY. EVERY CASE IS DIFFERENT AND THIS GUIDE SHOULD NOT BE CONSTRUED AS LEGAL ADVICE. THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT CREATE AN ATTORNEY CLIENT RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE READER AND ITS AUTHOR. IF YOU HAVE LEGAL QUESTIONS, CONSULT WITH A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY.