Summary dissolution is a streamlined divorce process for couples who meet certain criteria. It can take as little as 6 months and you most likely will never have to appear in court. The requirements for summary dissolution are as follows:
- The couple has been married no more than five years.
- There are no children from the relationship, including adopted children or children born before or during the marriage, and neither party is currently pregnant.
- Neither the couple, nor either spouse owns or has an interest in any real estate, including any houses, condominiums, rental properties, land (vacant or otherwise), or an option to buy real property.
- Neither party owes more than $6,000 in debts acquired since the date of the marriage. However, auto loans are excepted from this requirement.
- There is no community property worth more than $45,000, excluding vehicles.
- Neither spouse has separate property worth more than $45,000, excluding debts on the property or auto loans.
- Each party agrees that both will forego spousal support.
- Both spouses have signed a marital settlement agreement dividing their property and debts.
- At least one party has lived in California for 6 months (residency requirement)
- Both parties are required to read a booklet outlining summary dissolution.
While both parties are required to submit preliminary financial disclosures, parties to summary dissolution proceedings are exempted from the final declaration of disclosure requirements.
An understandable question here is, "Do I even need an attorney for this?" Well, since I am an attorney I'm always inclined to believe that when facing a legal matter, you're better off using a lawyer. I say this because among other things, an evaluation of all your circumstances is going to be required, and the property agreement is going to have to be legally sound.
Whether a divorce is a hotly contested matter containing numerous assets, or whether it's one where both parties are amicable and agree on everything, what you still need is a legally binding, durable agreement. Remember, your time and your peace of mind have value too, not just the material possessions you own. So if you think you may qualify for summary dissolution, call me and let's talk it over.