Summary Dissolution for Married Couples

Summary Dissolution for Married Couples


Question: My spouse and I both agree we want a divorce, and we really do not have any assets or debts; isn’t there a quick and easy way to get divorced without all the usual hassle?

Answer: Yes, there is a quick and easy way to obtain a divorce, called “summary dissolution,” if you and your spouse meet certain requirements.


In California, if you qualify for a summary dissolution, you will not have to talk to a judge and can complete your divorce with a one-time filing with the court of a single set of documents. Your divorce will become final automatically six months after your file your petition for summary dissolution. Keep in mind that summary dissolution is a divorce, and not a legal separation. (To learn about the difference, see our related article on legal separation.) Once the effective date of your judgment of dissolution has passed, you will be officially divorced, and you will be eligible to remarry, if you desire.

For couples who are not married but are registered domestic partners, you can use a similar summary dissolution procedure to terminate your domestic partnership; see our related article here. If you are both married, and have a registered domestic partnership; you may use summary dissolution to end both with one filing, see our related article here.

To qualify for summary dissolution in California, the parties must meet certain requirements under the law. As an initial matter, either you or your spouse must have been a resident of California for the last 6 months, and of the county where you file for the last 3 months. One exception to this rule exists for same-sex married couples who got married in California but do not live in California and live in a state that will not dissolve a same-sex marriage. Such couples can file in whichever county in California you were married, regardless of these residency requirements.


In addition to the residency requirement, to qualify for a summary dissolution of your marriage you must meet all of the following requirements. You and your spouse:

  • Have been married for less than 5 years (from the date you got married to the date you separated);
  • Have no children together born or adopted before or during the marriage (and are not currently expecting a new child);
  • Do not own any part of land or buildings;
  • Do not rent any land or buildings (except for where you live now, as long as you do not have a 1-year lease or option to buy);
  • Do not owe more than $6,000 for debts acquired since you got married;
    • Do not include your car loans
  • Have less than $41,000 worth of property acquired during the marriage;
  • Do not have separate property worth more than $41,000;
  • Agree that neither spouse will ever get spousal support; and
  • Have signed an agreement that divided your property and debts.


If you meet the above requirements, then you may use the simplified procedure available for summary dissolution. Summary dissolution is a quick and cost effective way for qualified spouses in California to obtain a divorce. However, the process can still be confusing. For assistance obtaining a summary dissolution, contact our attorneys today. We offer competitive rates, and streamline the process for you, so you can get your paperwork filed, and get on with your life. Call us today!

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