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Summary Dissolution: The Quick Answer to Divorce Woes?


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Ending a marriage usually takes quite a while, but if you fit the criteria, a summary dissolution may speed up the process.

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Summary Dissolution: The Quick Answer to Divorce Woes?

  1. 1. Most people think of divorce as a long contentious process. The image of a husband and wife bickering back and forth, arguing over every last detail for months, is one TV and movies have pounded into our collective mind. It’s true, divorce can be mean, nasty, and riddled with conflict. But it isn’t always. In certain cases, if a couple meets a specific set of criteria, it’s possible to get a quick, easy divorce in California. This is called a summary dissolution.
  2. 2. Only an option in particular circumstances, not everyone can get a summary dissolution. Most people will have to go through the normal steps. To qualify, you have to check off a number of boxes relating to the length of your marriage, debt, assets, children, and more. But if you meet the requirements, and if you and your spouse are generally on the same page, this may be a way to shorten and streamline the divorce process.
  3. 3. Length of Marriage: As mentioned earlier, not every union qualifies for summary dissolution. This is intended only for shorter marriages. In fact, if you have been married for more than five years, you will have to go the more traditional divorce route. However, if it’s been less than five years from the day of your wedding to the date of your separation, this may be an option.
  4. 4. Children: If there are children involved, summary dissolution is not a possibility in your case. This includes both biological offspring as well as adopted children. If you have one on the way, that also disqualifies you from following this path.
  5. 5. Land or Buildings: Ownership of any land or buildings, even in part, puts summary dissolution out of reach. This also includes any lands or buildings that you and your spouse rent together, outside of your home, so long as you don’t have a one-year lease or option to If you bought a house together, you’ll have to take a different route.
  6. 6. Debt: California is a community property state, where all property acquired during a marriage is viewed as belonging equally to both parties. This also includes debt, often community obligations. If these shared debts total more than $6,000, excluding car loans, don’t qualify for summary dissolution. This can include everything from student loans and credit card debt to medical bills and financed furniture.
  7. 7. Shared Property: Again excluding cars, if the community property acquired during a marriage doesn’t exceed $41,000, you may qualify summary dissolution. In addition to savings and checking accounts, this amount can include just about anything. Jewelry, furniture, and even figure into this amount. As do life insurance, joint or individual pension plans, and savings bonds. If you have season tickets to the Chargers or Padres, that can count towards this total as well.
  8. 8. Separate Property: $41,000 is also the magic number when it comes to separate property. This includes stocks, savings, and pension plans acquired outside of the marriage. Any pension benefits accrued after the separation also fit into this category. As does the market value of items like jewelry, televisions, furniture, cameras, and more. If either party exceeds $41,000 in separate property, summary dissolution is off the table. Again, this not include cars.
  9. 9. Spousal Support: In many divorces, spousal support may be ordered, either temporarily or indefinitely, to help your ex meet financial needs. In order to qualify for a summary dissolution, however, you and your spouse must agree that neither one of you will ever get alimony.
  10. 10. Residency Requirements: There are also residency requirements to qualify for summary dissolution. Either you or your spouse must have lived in California for at least the past six months. Beyond that, you must have lived in the county in which you file for at least three months. These are general rules for any divorce in the Golden State, but they also apply in these cases.
  11. 11. If your case matches these requirements, you can proceed with your summary dissolution. From here, it’s a fairly straightforward task. First, you must determine the correct court in which to file, based on which county or counties where you and your spouse reside.
  12. 12. In addition to any forms the local court requires of you, there are a number of documents you and your spouse must fill out and file for summary dissolution. Chief among these are the Joint Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage and the Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment form.
  13. 13. After all of the worksheets are filled out, the financial information exchanged, forms filed in the appropriate court, and fees paid, you will receive your divorce judgment ending your marriage.
  14. 14. A summary dissolution is one way to simplify and streamline the divorce process. If you and your spouse are on the same page and can work together, and if you meet the criteria, this may be an option worth exploring. In relatively simple cases where there is little to argue over or fight about, it can be a quick and easy way for you and your spouse to dissolve your marriage and move on with your lives.
  15. 15. If you have any questions about your case, contact Goldberg Jones at our San Diego offices. We’ll be happy to discuss your situation.