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Difference Between Summary Dissolution and Divorce

Difference Between Summary Dissolution and Divorce

There’s often a lot of confusion surrounding “Divorce,” “Dissolution of Marriage,” and “Summary Dissolution.”

Where it Gets Confusing

One thing’s for sure – they all mean the ending of a marriage. In California, “Divorce” and “Dissolution of Marriage” are the same – in fact, a lot of times these terms are used interchangeably. This is because California is a “no-fault” state – meaning blame can not be assigned to either spouse. “Summary Dissolution” is also a divorce, but it is a shorter, and often times easier way of ending a marriage than a “Divorce”/”Dissolution of Marriage.”

Closer Look at Summary Dissolution

So if a “Summary Dissolution” is an easier way, why doesn’t everyone just go that route? There are specific requirements that must be met in order to qualify your divorce for a “Summary Dissolution.”

Requirements for Summary Dissolution

The following is a list of those requirements:

1. Both of you want the marriage or domestic partnership to end because of irreconcilable differences, and have agreed to filing a “Summary Dissolution.”

2. At least one spouse must have been a California resident for at least 6 months, and a resident of the County the divorce is being filed in for at least 3 months.

3. You have no children together, and no adopted children under the age of 18. Also, the wife may not be pregnant during the time of filing.

4. You have to have been married for less than 5 years.

5. Neither spouse owns any real property, such as land or buildings. You can have a lease, but it must not contain an option to purchase. The lease must end within one year from the date of filing the summary dissolution petition.

6. Neither spouse has incurred more than $6,000 in debt since the beginning of your marriage. You are able to exclude car payments.

7. There is $38,000 or less in community property – assets or debts acquired or earned during marriage. You are able to exclude cars here, but you must include any deferred compensation. “Deferred compensation” are things like a 401K, or retirement benefits earned during the time of the marriage.

8. Neither spouse has more than $38,000 in separate property – anything owned before the marriage or after separation. This includes any gift or inheritance you got during the marriage.

9. Neither spouse has disagreements regarding how belongings and debts will be divided, and are thus able to sign a property settlement agreement, which divides your community property. You will need to sign the necessary paperwork to make this agreement effective, which means taking care of title certificates, bills of sale, or other transfers.

10. You must waive your rights to spousal support.

11. You must waive your right to appeal once the court enters the summary dissolution

12. You both agree to have read and understood a booklet called Summary Dissolution Information – this is provided by the California Courts.

If all of these requirements are met, you can file for a Summary Dissolution for your marriage.


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