How to File For Summary Dissolution

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 13, 2015 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

Divorce can be a long and arduous process. However, eligible couples may be able to take advantage of "summary dissolution" for a simpler and faster divorce.

Summary dissolution can be used to end a marriage or a domestic partnership. It is a less formal divorce process that includes less paperwork, fewer court appearances, and less negotiations and dispute.

Here is what you need to know about filing for summary dissolution:

Eligibility Requirements

While requirements and procedure can vary from state to state, we will discuss California's summary dissolution requirements as a general guideline.

To be eligible for summary dissolution in California, you and your spouse must meet ALL of the following requirements:

  • You have been married less than five years.
  • You have no children together.
  • You do not own any land or property together.
  • You do not rent any land or property together. This does not include where you live. If you do have a lease together, it must end within one year of filing for summary dissolution.
  • You do not share more than $6,000 of community debts.
  • You have less than $40,000 of community property.
  • You have less than $40,000 of separate property.
  • Neither of you want spousal support.
  • You have agreed on how you will divide all property and debt.

California's eligibility requirements are stricter than some other states. For example, Oregon allows summary dissolution for couples who have been married for 10 years. In Minnesota, you can still file for summary dissolution if you share children, as long as the children are older than 18 years old. Be sure to check with your state's requirements to see if you qualify.

How to File

California has a Summary Dissolution Information booklet that will give you much of the information you need to file a summary dissolution. You will be able to do most of the summary dissolution process by yourself.

First, you need to find the right court to file in. Usually, you must file in the county where you and your spouse currently live in. You will then need to fill out your Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution. Unlike normal divorce petitions, both spouses must sign the Joint Petition. You will also need to fill out your Judgment form and attach your property division agreement.

Once all your forms are filed with the court clerk, you will have to wait six months before your divorce is finalized. If, during the six month waiting period, you decide that you want to do a regular divorce instead of a summary dissolution, you can file a Notice of Revocation, and then proceed with filing for a regular divorce.

Again, the process of filing for summary dissolution may be slightly different in your state. If you need help filing for a summary dissolution, or if you decide you need assistance with a formal divorce, an experienced local family law attorney will be able to help.

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