Summary Dissolution: A California "Quickie" Divorce

California has a no-fault divorce system with many laws and procedures to make divorce a fair process for both spouses ending their marriage. The system can become very complicated, however, when there are many issues to be solved to break up the marriage. The divorce becomes complicated when there are children involved from the marriage, and/or assets and/or debts from the marriage. These complications can also extend the time it takes to end the marriage, from the minimum time of six months.

However, many couples wishing to end their marriage do not have children from their marriage, their marriage was for a relatively short-term and/or they do not have any major assets and/or debts. For these spouses, California allows a “quickie” type of divorce known as summary dissolution.

To be eligible for a summary dissolution, spouses must meet the following requirements:

  • The date of the marriage until the date of separation must be less than five years of duration.
  • There must be no children from the marriage (including adoptions during the marriage), nor current pregnancies.
  • Neither spouse can own property (land or buildings). (Note, if either spouse owns his/her own separate property, then the spouses are not eligible for a summary judgment.)
  • The spouses do not rent any property (except where they currently live, and that property does not have a one-year or lease/option to buy).
  • The spouses have $6,000.00 or less in community debts (not including motor vehicle loans).
  • The spouses have less than $41,000.00 of community assets (things – not land/buildings – acquired during the marriage), not including motor vehicles.
  • Either or both spouses have less than $41,000.00 of separate property (usually assets acquired before marriage or after separation or received by gift or will) not including motor vehicles.
  • Both spouses agree to refuse spousal support from the other spouse.
  • Both spouses have signed an agreement to divide the assets and debts (including motor vehicles and/or motor vehicle loans) between the two of them.

All of these conditions must be met, or the spouses do not qualify for a summary dissolution, and must obtain a regular California dissolution of marriage.

For more information, or to determine whether you qualify for a summary dissolution, contact a family law facilitator or a family law attorney, and/or the California Courts website at:

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