Is a Summary Dissolution a Possibility for You?
We often hear from clients who are very interested in some form of low-cost “mutual divorce,” especially those from India where “Mutual Consent Divorce” is common practice. While California does not offer na option precisely like India’s Mutual Consent Divorce, couples may be able to pursue a similar end to their marriage in the form of a Summary Dissolution. Unfortunately, very few couples actually qualify for this simplified form of divorce.
People who get married and quickly realize that it is a big mistake often hope that a summary dissolution is a possibility so that they can potentially save on costs and stress. When it is an option, the summary dissolution is one of the fastest and easiest ways to end a marriage—though you should keep in mind there is still a 6 month waiting period after filing a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution before the marital status can be terminated and divorce is finalized. While most people won’t qualify, it is still a good idea to look into it if there is even a chance. With that in mind, we’ve created the following checklist to help see if your marriage is able to get a summary dissolution. Keep in mind that ALL of the following must apply in order for you to be eligible.
Checklist to qualify for summary dissolution:
- Marriage lasted for less than 5 years (from the date you got married to the date you separated)
- No children together, born or adopted, before or during the marriage (and you are not expecting a new child now)
- No ownership of land or buildings
- Do not rent any land or buildings (except for where you now live, as long as you do not have a 1-year lease or option to buy)
- Do not owe more than $6,000 in debts acquired since the date you got married (called “community obligations”)
- Do not count car loans.
- Have less than $41,000 worth of property acquired during the marriage (called “community property”)
- Do not count your cars.
- Do not have separate property worth more than $41,000
- Do not count your cars.
- Agree that neither spouse will ever get spousal support
- Are willing to have a signed agreement that divides your property (including your cars) and debts
In addition, if you are married, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months and in the county where you file for summary dissolution for the last 3 months. If you do not meet the residency requirement, you can still file for a legal separation but you have to go through the regular legal separation process, or wait until you meet the residency requirements for a divorce.
EXCEPTION: Same-sex married couples who got married in California but do not live in California and live in a state (or states) that will not dissolve a same-sex marriage, can file to end their same-sex marriage in California, regardless of these residency requirements. You must file in whichever county you were married. If this is your situation, talk to a lawyer with experience in same-sex marriage laws.
Whether you qualify for a summary dissolution or not, you will need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney. Attorney Madan Ahluwalia has been helping people with all types of divorces for years, and he can help you understand whether Summary Dissolution is a possibility for you or if another course of action may be best for your situation. Contact us to set up a consultation and see if our services are a good fit for you.