If you are seeking a divorce in California, there are generally two ways it can be accomplished. The first is through the regular dissolution of the marriage, which requires intervention by and an appearance in California's family courts.
The second is called summary dissolution, which is a shorter, less expensive, and all around easier way to dissolve a marriage. Not everyone can get a summary dissolution. In fact, most couples will have to go through the regular divorce process. You should make an effort to educate yourself on the legal process.
The Judicial Council of California has an informative booklet which you should read before attempting to pursue a summary dissolution. It's called “Summary Dissolution Information,” and is commonly known by it's form name of “Form FL-810”.
How can you get a copy? You can get this booklet online through the California Judicial Counsel website, or you can typically get hard copy of the booklet from your Los Angeles courthouse. Again, it's important to understand that summary dissolution is not available to all couples. You can qualify for a summary dissolution if ALL of the conditions below apply.
Qualifying for California Summary Dissolution
In order to pursue summary dissolution of a marriage in California, the couple must meet the following requirements:
- The wife is not pregnant and there are no children born or adopted before or during the marriage.
- The couple has been married for less than five years; this is measured from the day of marriage to the day of separation.
- Either spouse has lived in California for at least 6 months and the county where they plan to file for a divorce for the last 3 months.
- You don't have an interest in any real estate property, such as a house, rental property, land, a one-year lease, or an option to buy property.
- Other than car loans, you don't owe more than $5,000 that was acquired from the date you were married.
- Neither spouse has separate property valued over $25,000. This does not include any money owed on property or vehicles.
- Neither spouse will be seeking spousal support.
- Before the actual filing of a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution of Marriage, both spouses have signed an agreement to divide any property or debts. In other words, there is no disagreement regarding the distribution of property and debts.
If you meet these requirements, than you should talk to a Los Angeles divorce attorney at our law firm about pursuing summary dissolution of your marriage, which can save you time, money, and the emotional hardship of a contested divorce proceeding.
Benefits of a California Summary Dissolution Divorce
One of the main benefits of seeking summary dissolution of your marriage is that you do not have to appear in court. You simply need to have your lawyer prepare a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution with the court, which asks for general questions such your date of marriage, date of separation, residency information, and statements regarding the value of your community property.
Your entire estate, excluding motor vehicles, must be valued at less than $43,000 in order to petition for summary dissolution. Further, you may not have an interest in real property together, i.e., own a home or business establishment, and your debts may not be over $6,000. It generally takes six months to finalize a summary dissolution, and the court will tell you what the effective date of the divorce is once the petition is filed. Either party may, however, stop the summary dissolution within that six-month period.
The Importance of Using a Family Law Attorney
According to California courts, it is not necessary to hire an attorney in order to file a petition for summary dissolution. It is, however, necessary that you and your spouse have entered into a written agreement regarding the dissolution of your assets prior to filing the petition, and it can be difficult to prepare such without the aid of a Los Angeles family law lawyer.
It is also beneficial to hire an attorney to walk you through the different qualifications for summary dissolution. This is because it is important to ensure you qualify and fully understand that you have the right to seek regular dissolution of the marriage even if your spouse wants to enter summary proceedings.
Contact a Los Angeles Divorce Attorney
If you have questions regarding whether you qualify for summary dissolution, contact Furman & Zavatsky LLP. Our Los Angeles divorce attorneys have the experience you need to assist you with the California divorce process. Call our law firm today for a free consultation at 818-528-3471.