As we’ve discussed in detail on our blog, not every divorce must result in prolonged and wholly contentious legal proceedings. Indeed, many spouses are more than willing to consider alternatives to divorce such as mediation or even collaborative law.
In fact, some spouses are on such good terms — or perhaps so ready to move on — that they want to pursue something known under California law as a summary dissolution.
For those unfamiliar with the concept of a summary dissolution, it is essentially one of the easiest and quickest ways for couples to divorce, requiring them only to fill out and file paperwork with the court.
As appealing as this may sound, it’s important to understand that it is not an option for everyone, there are strict requirements for a couple to qualify for a summary dissolution and those that do not meet the requirements must pursue more traditional routes of ending their marriage.
How then does a couple qualify for a summary dissolution?
- They must have been married for less than five years, meaning from the date listed on their marriage certificate to the date of separation.
- They must not have any interest in real property – either in full or even in part
- They must not rent any buildings or lands, excepting their current residence (provided there is no option to buy or no one-year lease).
- They must not have separate property valued at over $41,000.
- They must not have marital/community property valued at over $41,000.
- They must have no children born or adopted before or during the marriage, and not be expecting a child.
- They must both agree that spousal support will not be awarded to either spouse, and both sign a property division agreement.
- At least one spouse must have lived in California for six months and in the county in which they intend to file the summary dissolution for the preceding three months.
What all of this really serves to underscore is that while a summary dissolution is a relatively painless process for couples, people rarely qualify. As such, those couples considering a summary dissolution should give very serious consideration to speaking with an experienced legal professional who can help determine whether they qualify and how to go about preparing the appropriate paperwork if they do qualify.