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Summary Dissolution in California

All divorces in California are called dissolutions. A summary dissolution allows you and your spouse to terminate your marriage without a trial or a judge’s input. 

A summary dissolution is one of the least expensive ways to end your marriage. With a few forms and a small fee, you’ll finish the divorce process in a fraction of the time of a traditional divorce. When you read about "quickie" celebrity divorces in California, chances are they are getting summary dissolutions.

But this process isn’t right for everyone. You must meet stringent requirements involving your family setup, your assets and debts, and your income. If you fail to meet even one of these and a few other rules, you must look into another type of divorce

What is a summary dissolution?

During a standard dissolution (or divorce), a judge looks over a couple's paperwork and makes rulings regarding the outcome. At the end of that period, either part of the couple could appeal the ruling and challenge the outcome. A summary dissolution is different.

During a summary dissolution, both parties fill out paperwork jointly. Spouses settle on the terms of the divorce, and they sign paperwork to that effect. 

At the end of the summary dissolution process, there is no trial or hearing. Instead, couples file paperwork, and the process is complete. Summary dissolution requires that a couple has minimal sources of conflict in general, such as lots of valuable assets to divide or complicated scenarios involving children that do require more negotiating.

Get a summary dissolution with Hello Divorce for only $1,500 total for both of you. Learn more here.

Couples can't appeal a summary dissolution in most cases. It's critical to work closely with your spouse and fight for the terms you want and achieve a fair settlement agreement. 

Key facts about summary dissolution in California

  • This process takes 6 months from paperwork filing to formal divorce. 
  • A summary dissolution isn't always faster than a standard divorce. 
  • You must pay $450 when you file forms for summary dissolution (same as the divorce filing fee).
  • There are just three steps involved in a summary dissolution.
  • You must meet strict requirements about the length of your marriage, children, and financial health to use this type of divorce. 

California’s requirements for a summary dissolution

While many couples may want to use a summary dissolution to end their marriage, it's not available to all couples. 

Spouses who use this option must meet all of these criteria:

  • Have been married less than 5 years
  • Have no children and aren't pregnant/expecting a child
  • Accrued less than $6,000 in debt from the day they married until the day they split up
  • Came into the marriage with less than $47,000 in assets
  • Accrued less than $47,000 in assets together during the marriage
  • Don't want spousal support (alimony or palimony)
  • Agree on how to split property and assets 

You must meet all of these requirements to qualify for a summary dissolution. Missing just one could mean that this option isn't right for you. 

How much does a summary dissolution cost?

When you file your paperwork, you must pay a fee ranging between $435 and $450. This is the only fixed fee involved in getting a summary dissolution. 

You might qualify for a fee waiver if both spouses meet these criteria:

  • Receive public benefits
  • Have low income
  • Struggle to meet basic needs after paying the fee

You don't need to pay for the forms you need for a summary dissolution. And many couples go through this process without a lawyer. 

Get a summary dissolution with Hello Divorce for only $1,500 total for both of you. Learn more here.

Forms & paperwork required for a summary dissolution 

A divorce is a legal proceeding, and all of these procedures require paperwork. Thankfully, a summary dissolution requires fewer forms and documents than other forms of divorce. 

The paperwork you need falls into two phases.

Phase 1: Financial data

Spouses must disclose important data about how much they have before they can dissolve their marriages. During this stage, you'll use two forms to share information.

These are the two forms:

  • FL-810, Summary Dissolution Information, explains the process and how it works. You must both read this form and sign it. 
  • FL-150, Income and Expense Declaration, includes data about your financial health. 

Phase 2: Court forms 

You must tell the courts about the decisions you've made and your choices for the future. At this stage, you'll use forms to communicate with the authorities and end your marriage. 

You need these two forms:

  • FL-800, Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution, certifies you and your spouse have agreed to end your marriage
  • FL-825, Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment, is what the court will use to file your divorce. Fill out the top portion of the form only.

How to file a summary dissolution in California 

It's relatively easy to file a summary dissolution in California. A three-step plan should get you from the beginning to the end of the divorce. 

Step 1: Prepare for a summary dissolution 

You must talk about your financial situation with your spouse before you can dissolve your marriage. 

Two forms help you hold this discussion:

  • FL-810, Summary Dissolution Information, explains the process and how it works. You must both read this form and sign it. 
  • FL-150, Income and Expense Declaration, includes data about your financial health. 

Give your partner a copy of these forms along with tax returns from the past two years. If you have any other printed data about your finances, provide that too. 

Step 2: Fill out court forms 

You must inform the court of your decisions and agreement to divorce. Filling out more paperwork makes this possible. 

These are the two forms you need:

  • FL-800, Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution, certifies you and your spouse have agreed to end your marriage.
  • FL-825, Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment, is the form the court will use to file your divorce. Fill out the top portion of the form only.

If you have property, summarize how you’d like to divide it. Attach your plans to form FL-825. Make copies of both forms, and your property agreement. Prepare two envelopes, one addressed to each spouse, and put stamps on them. Bring all of this with you. 

Step 3: File your court forms

Use this tool to find a court in your area that processes summary dissolution paperwork. Once you find one, bring all of your paperwork and envelopes with them. 

Give all of your paperwork to the clerk, along with the envelopes and your fee. Some clerks will provide you with a Judgment of Dissolution form about your divorce. Others will use the envelope you provide to mail it to you. 

Want help with all these forms? Get a summary dissolution with Hello Divorce for only $1,500 total for both of you. Learn more here.

How long will it take to get a summary dissolution in California?

California requires a six-month waiting period for all divorces, including summary dissolution. 

Your Judgment of Dissolution will include a formal date on which your divorce is complete. Before that date, you aren't technically divorced and can't get remarried.  

Summary dissolution in California FAQ

Many people have questions about summary dissolution in California. These are a few of the queries people have shared with us:

How long does summary dissolution take in California?

You must wait six months from paperwork filing to formal divorce. You can take as long as you'd like to complete your paperwork. 

Is summary dissolution the same as divorce?

A formal divorce involves a judge. A summary dissolution does not. Both are forms of divorce. 

How do you start a summary dissolution in California?

Complete paperwork about your financial situation, and share it with your spouse. This kicks off the summary dissolution process, and it signals the moment at which you and your partner collaborate on ending your marriage. 

How does a dissolution of marriage work in California?

Forms begin and end the actual legal process. Of course, you and your spouse also need to come to agreements on all matters within the paperwork. Then you fill out all the forms, share them with the court, and the court files them. The process is relatively simple and easy to understand. 

References

FL-810: Summary Dissolution Information. (September 2021). Judicial Council of California. 
Find Out if You Qualify for Summary Dissolution. Judicial Branch of California. 
File Summary Dissolution Forms with the Court. Judicial Branch of California. 
Starting a Divorce by Summary Dissolution. Judicial Branch of California. 
Fill Out Court Forms and Create an Agreement. Judicial Branch of California. 
Find Your Court. Judicial Branch of California.