The legal term “dissolution of marriage” simply refers to the ending of a marriage through legal proceedings. In other words, it's the same as divorce, but a modern sounding term with a no-fault approach to terminating a marriage. Like most states, a divorcing couple in Los Angeles County can file a petition for the family law court to terminate their marriage pursuant to a written agreement between both spouses.
This agreement will typically address all the issues involving the“dissolution of marriage,” allowing the conclusion of the marriage without a divorce trial. A petition for dissolution of marriage is a formal legal document asking the court to grant you a divorce by means of summary dissolution. Summary dissolutions are one way to achieve a divorce in California, and a divorce is just one way to terminate a marriage.
As stated above, divorce and dissolution of marriage are the same thing as each requires the same legal proceedings to finalize. In some cases, the proceedings can be adversarial, or both spouses can decide to work together to reach an agreement on the major issues of distribution of marital assets, spousal support, child support, and child custody.
If spouses are able to reach an agreement, it's documented in a Marital Settlement Agreement, and presented to the Los Angeles County Family Law Court for approval and a final divorce decree. If there are outstanding issues between the spouses, they will have to be decided in a trail, where both couples will be given an opportunity to present their argument and testimony to support their position.
However, leaving issues for the court to decide is not only risky, but can be very expensive for both spouses. If you are considering a divorce, you need to consult with an experienced Los Angeles divorce and family law lawyer at Furman & Zavatsky LLP to review your situation and legal options. Read on for more information about how to end your marriage in Los Angeles County.
Ways to End a Marriage in California
There are several possible paths to end a marriage in the state of California. The three main ways to end a marriage are:
- Divorce: A divorce formally ends your marriage or registered domestic partnership.
- Legal separation: A legal separation is an option for couples who cannot or do not want to legally divorce.
- Annulment: An annulment legally invalidates a marriage. Annulments are relatively rare and difficult to obtain.
In cases where divorce is the means of ending a marriage, a dissolution of marriage will be granted by the court presiding over the case and they will issue a final divorce decree. In general, a summary dissolution of marriage is a less complicated and faster route to ending the marriage — but even though they're often simpler, summary dissolutions also carry certain requirements that must be met.
Most people do not qualify for summary dissolutions because these requirements are rather restrictive. Still, it is an option worth exploring. If you do qualify for a summary dissolution of marriage, your divorce will be far simpler than a traditional divorce.
Requirements to Qualify for a Summary Dissolution of Marriage
The court requires that certain requirements are met in order to grant a summary dissolution of marriage in California. If these requirements are not met, this does not mean that a divorce or a legal separation cannot still occur — it simply means that the marriage must be terminated by means other than a summary dissolution.
It is also important to note that if a marriage is terminated by means of summary dissolution, it falls under the general classification of a divorce, not a legal separation.
In order to qualify for a summary dissolution of marriage, each of the following requirements must be satisfied:
- You must have been married for less than five years;
- You and your spouse must have no children together born during the marriage or adopted before or during the marriage;
- You must not be expecting a child with your spouse now;
- You must not own any land or property jointly with your spouse;
- You must not rent any land or property jointly with your spouse (except for the land or property you are currently inhabiting);
- You cannot jointly owe more than $6,000 for debts acquired since the marriage started;
- You cannot jointly own more than $41,000 of property acquired since the marriage started;
- You cannot separately own more than $41,000 of property;
- You and your spouse must both agree to never receive spousal support (also called alimony);
- You and your spouse must sign an agreement that states how you will divide your property and debts.
In addition, you and your spouse must have lived in the state of California for the last six months, and you and your spouse must have lived in the California county in which you plan to file for summary dissolution of marriage for the last three months. The Judicial Branch of California maintains an extensive and useful library of information regarding divorce, legal separation and the ins and outs of summary dissolutions.
Requirements to Qualify for a Summary Dissolution of a Registered Domestic Partnership
If you are seeking to end a registered domestic partnership with a summary dissolution in the state of California, you must meet most of the same requirements as someone seeking to end a marriage by means of summary dissolution. However, in the case of registered domestic partnerships, the residency requirement that applies to married couples does not apply. This means that you and your domestic partner may file for a summary dissolution even if neither you nor your domestic partner currently resides in the state of California.
Speak with Our Los Angeles Divorce Attorneys
Divorces are complicated and time-consuming. A simpler alternative is a summary dissolution of marriage. Although summary dissolutions are not as common as traditional divorces, if you are able to prove that you qualify for a summary dissolution, things will be drastically less complicated.
How if you decide to proceed with your divorce, it can seriously impact how easy the process is and how much money it will cost. Therefore, it's a wise decision to consult with a skilled divorce lawyer to get assistance with preparing, filing, and serving the divorce petition to making sure your settlement agreement is fair to you. Hiring legal counsel is a good choice if you seek to qualify for a summary dissolution of marriage.
The Los Angeles divorce attorneys at Furman & Zavatsky LLP are experienced and familiar with the complexities of summary dissolutions. To talk through the details of your specific situation, contact us at 818-528-3471.
Furman & Zavatsky LLP
15821 Ventura Blvd #690
Encino, CA 91436