What is a “summary dissolution” and can it help expedite my divorce in California?

A Summary Dissolution allows parties who have been married less than 5 years, do not have children together, do not own real estate, do not have significant assets and liabilities, do not have disagreements on how to divide their property, and do not want spousal support from each other, to get divorced in a more simplified manner than with a standard dissolution.  A Summary Dissolution simplifies the process because there is no possibility of a contested proceeding ending up in trial. However, it does not necessarily speed up the process because just like a standard dissolution, the parties still must wait the required 6 months to elapse before the court can terminate marital status.

What are the eligibility requirements for a Summary Dissolution?

  • The marriage can be ended only for irreconcilable differences (Summary Dissolution is not available for parties who wish to end their marriage due to permanent legal incapacity to make decisions or parties who wish to seek an annulment).
  • The marriage lasted 5 years or less (from date of marriage to date of separation).
  • There are no children born before or during the marriage (including adult children).
  • There are no children under the age of 18 who were adopted during the marriage.
  • Nither party is pregnant.
  • Neither party has any interest in real property, whether land or buildings (except either party may have a lease for the residence they occupy so long as the lease will terminate within 1 year and does not include an option to purchase).
  • Community debts do not exceed $6,000* (not including automobile loans).
  • The total net value of community assets do not exceed $43,000* (not including automobiles).
  • The total net value of either party’s separate property assets do not exceed $43,000* (not including automobiles).
  • The parties agree on the division of their property and have a written settlement agreement.
  • Both parties agree to not ask for spousal support and forever waive any right to spousal support.
  • There is no trial in a Summary Dissolution.
  • The parties agree to waive their right to seek a new trial (since there was no trial to begin with).
  • *These value are adjusted for inflation every 2 years on odd-numbered years. These values reflect the most recent adjustment in 2017.

What are the jurisdictional requirements for a Summary Dissolution?

  • At least one party must meet the residency requirement by being a resident of the State of California for at least 6 months before filing and a resident of the County for at least 3 months before filing.
  • The parties must wait 6 months from the date of filing before the court can end the marriage.

What are the procedural requirements for a Summary Dissolution?

  • The parties file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution.
  • The parties must both exchange a Declaration of Disclosure and provide each other a written statement of any investment, business, or other income producing opportunities that came up after the date of separation but stemmed from investments or work during the marriage.
  • The parties have a signed, written settlement agreement.
  • The parties submit a Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment.

What if I change my mind and now want spousal support and/or want the court to determine my rights?

  • With a standard dissolution, it takes only one party to start the divorce proceeding and neither party can prevent the other party from getting divorced. However, with a Summary Dissolution, both parties must agree to proceed as a Summary Dissolution and either party can unilaterally stop the Summary Dissolution proceeding.
  • Either party may stop the Summary Dissolution proceeding by filing a Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution. If you want to stop the Summary Dissolution, you must file this Notice within the 6 month waiting period before your marital status is terminated.
  • The proceeding can be changed to a standard dissolution by filing the paperwork for a standard dissolution.
  • If the standard dissolution is filed within 90 days of revoking the Summary Dissolution, then the waiting period that has elapsed for the Summary Dissolution can be used toward the 6 month waiting period for the standard dissolution.

If you believe you are eligible for a Summary Dissolution, contact the Law Office of Christine Nguyen Thomas for assistance with preparing your paperwork. We are available to serve residents of Camarillo, Ojai, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Fillmore, and surrounding areas in Ventura County. Call for a consultation: 805-351-8866.


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