Obtaining Summary Dissolution of a California Marriage

In California, there is a streamlined method of obtaining a divorce, called “summary dissolution.” This article will explain the requirements for taking advantage of this procedure to end a California marriage.

What Is a Summary Dissolution?

In California a divorce is called a “dissolution”. There are two ways for obtaining a dissolution in California – a “regular” dissolution and a “summary” dissolution. Summary dissolution is faster and less complicated, but not everybody is entitled to utilize this method for obtaining a California divorce. There are very specific criteria, listed below, that must be satisfied in order to obtain a summary dissolution.

Do You Qualify for a Summary Dissolution?

To qualify for a summary dissolution of your marriage you must meet all of the following requirements. You and your spouse:

• Must have been married for less than 5;

• Have no children together born or adopted before or during the marriage;

• Do not own any part of land or buildings;

• Do not rent any land or buildings, except for your current residence;

• Do not owe more than $6,000 for debts acquired since the date you got married, (excluding car loans);

• Have less than $47,000 worth of property acquired during the marriage (excluding cars);

• Do not have separate property worth more than $47,000 (excluding cars);

• Must agree that neither spouse will ever be entitled to spousal support; and

• Must have signed an agreement that divides your property (including your cars) and debts.

In addition, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months and in the county where you file for summary dissolution for the last 3 months. If you’re not eligible for summary dissolution, you can go through the standard divorce process.

How long does it take to finish my divorce?

The earliest you can be divorced is 6 months from the date of filing the Summary Dissolution forms.

What if I change my mind about the divorce before the Judgment is final?

Either spouse in a summary dissolution can stop the divorce by filing a Notice of Revocation of Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution before a Judgment has been entered.

Can I Challenge a Summary Dissolution Ruling by the Court?

Summary dissolution will not involve a court hearing or trial. This is unlike a regular dissolution, where either spouse or domestic partner can ask for a hearing or trial. With a regular dissolution, if either spouse or domestic partner is unhappy with the judge’s final decision, it is possible to challenge that decision. This can be done, for example, by asking for a new trial or by filing an appeal to a higher court.

With a summary dissolution, there is no trial or hearing. Couples who choose this method of getting a divorce do not have the right to ask for a new trial (since there is no trial) or the right to appeal the case to a higher court. This makes sense because the dissolution is based on an agreement by the parties to the action.

There are, however, some cases in which a divorce agreement underlying a summary dissolution can be challenged. The court may have the power to set aside the divorce if you can show you were treated unfairly in the property settlement agreement, e.g., that the things you agreed to give your spouse or domestic partner were much more valuable than you thought at the time of the dissolution. You can also challenge summary dissolution by showing you went through the dissolution procedure against your will. Another way to challenge summary dissolution is by showing there are serious mistakes in the property settlement agreement. Summary dissolution may also be challenged based on a party’s non-compliance with preliminary disclosure requirements, mandating that the parties fully share all information about property, debts and income. This information needs to be shared before the property settlement agreement is signed.

Please contact us if you have any questions regarding the above, or if you would like further information on our services. We can be reached at 888-441-2355 or Our experienced professionals are standing by to answer any inquiries you may have.

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