What is a marriage Summary Dissolution
A summary dissolution is just another legal term for a simplified divorce which involves a process that is not quite as complicated as filing for a traditional divorce. In the State of California, there are a few ways to end a marriage, or at least separate the financial connection between spouses, including divorce, legal separation, and an annulment. A divorce (i.e., dissolution) is the permanent ending of your marriage or registered domestic partnership; therefore, it’s important that you get the best advice when undertaking the process.
Married couples, those registered as domestic partners, even couples who began as domestic partners and then married, are eligible for this fast-track legal process.
A summary dissolution is a court proceeding, but it allows the parties to forego a hearing in front of judge if they can work out all of the agreements of the divorce among themselves. A lawyer is not required; however, it is always advisable to have a divorce attorney review final paperwork in order to be sure your rights are protected.
Requirements for Summary Dissolution of Marriage
To qualify for a summary dissolution in the State of California you must meet all the following requirements. Note, that the requirements for dissolution of a domestic partnership are not the same.
- Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last six months, and in the county where you are filing for marriage dissolution for the last three months.
- You and your spouse must have been married for less than five years. This is counted from the day you were married to the day you separated.
- There must be no children born or adopted before or during the marriage, and you must not be expecting a child at the time of filing.
- You and your spouse must not own part of any land or buildings
- You and your spouse must not rent any land or buildings, except where you currently live as long as the lease is less than one year and you have no option to buy
- You and your spouse do not owe more than $6,000 in debt acquired since the date of your marriage to the date of separation
- You and your spouse have less than $41,000 worth of property that was acquired during the marriage
- You and your spouse do not have separate property worth more than $41,000
- You and your spouse agree that neither spouse will ever receive spousal support from the other
- You and your spouse have a signed agreement dividing property and debt
How to File for Marriage Dissolution in California
At this point you may want to have a family law attorney review your paperwork, not only for completeness, but also to ensure everything is covered and you are protected. Keep in mind, at the heart of a summary dissolution is a contract – the Marital Settlement Agreement. If the terms of the contract are complex, you may need to see an attorney to review the contract and make sure you are protected.
Once you have all the forms gathered and both parties have signed the appropriate documents, you can then take your documents to the court for filing. Make sure you go to the proper court, based on where you live. Only one person is required to be present for the filing, as long as all of the steps have been followed and the absent partner has signed the required forms.
You will submit the documents, as well as two copies, to the clerk. The clerk will keep and file the originals with the court and will stamp the other two copies. One copy is for the filing party and one is for the spouse.
You will have to pay a filing fee at the time you file the papers. This can usually be paid by check, cash or credit/debit card. Be sure to verify beforehand how the court accepts payment of filing fees. For those who cannot afford the filing fee, there are opportunities for a fee waiver, but you will have to fill out a separate form, if you qualify.
There are several steps you must complete before your marriage dissolution becomes final.
- Read the booklet provided by the court called, Summary Dissolution Information, FORM FL-810. You will be required to swear under penalty of perjury that you have read this booklet.
- Find the correct court to file your papers in. This is based on the county where you and your spouse live.
- Fill out a joint petition form. This is signed by both you and your spouse and states that you agree to proceed with the dissolution.
- Fill out a judgment form. This will be used to grant the final judgment.
- Fill out worksheets and financial information and exchange with your spouse. These worksheets lay out each spouse’s financial situation and show agreement on income and expenses, and division of assets and debts.
- Fill out your property agreement. Both of you must agree to the division of property. If you have no property, you must file a memo stating this fact.
- Have your forms reviewed. To make the process of marriage dissolution simple, you should have all your paperwork reviewed by an attorney. Even if the dissolution is amicable, a quick review by an attorney will help protect your rights.
- Make copies; one for you, one for your spouse. The originals stay with the court.
- File with the clerk and pay. Turn in all the forms, including the copies. The clerk will file the originals, stamp your copies, and collect the fee.
- Receive Form FL-825. This is your judgement. It may be mailed or you may receive it at the time of filing. The form will have a date on it that is six months after you first filed your case. This is the date your divorce is final, and you cannot remarry until after this date.
Summary Dissolution Waiting Period
While you may receive your judgement right away, or by mail within a few days, this does not mean you are divorced. In California, there is a six-month waiting period, called a “cooling-off period”. This means that from the date of the dissolution, you must wait six months until you can remarry. The final date will be printed on the judgement form (Form FL-825). Be sure to review and understand this form completely.
Contact an Experienced Attorney
Divorce is difficult, even in the best of circumstances. A marriage dissolution is an easier route, but seeking the advice of an experienced and competent attorney is still a good idea. An experienced divorce attorney can help protect your rights and make the process as easy as possible.