A summary dissolution of marriage (or “summary disso”) is a cheap and relatively quick and easy way of getting a divorce in California. You and your spouse file together a Joint Petition for a Summary Dissolution (Form FL-800), pay a single filing fee, wait six months, and then turn in to the family law business office a proposed Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-825) with an attached property-division agreement (dividing the community assets and debts between you) which you’ve both signed.
There are a couple of problems associated with the summary disso. First of all, under Family Code section 2401(a), you and your spouse must meet the following requirements at the time of filing of the joint petition:
- Either you or your spouse has been a resident of California for the six-months period immediately preceding the filing of the joint petition and a resident of the County in which the petition is to be filed for the three months immediately preceding the filing of the petition;
- Irreconcilable differences have cause the irremediable breakdown of the marriage and the marriage should be dissolved;
- There are no children of your relationship with your spouse before or during the marriage, and neither you or your spouse is pregnant;
- The marriage was of a duration of not more than five years as of the date of separation (generally the date one of you moves out of the home, but see the page entitled “Date of Separation” for more information on the significance of that date and determining it);
- Neither you nor your spouse can have any interest in real estate, with the exception of a residential lease which does not contain an option to purchase and expires within one year of the filing of the joint petition.
- Neither you nor your spouse individually or jointly can have unpaid debt incurred after the date of marriage of over $4,000.00, excluding loans for a which a car is the collateral.
- The total fair market value of community property assets (generally meaning any and all property acquired during the marriage but before the date of separation), excluding all encumbrances and cars but including deferred compensation and retirement plans, must be less than $25,000.00.
- Neither you nor your spouse can have separate property assets (generally meaning any and all property acquired before marriage, after the date of separation or by gift or inheritance), excluding encumbrances and cars cannot exceed $25,000.00.
- Neither you nor your spouse requests spousal support (alimony);
- You and your spouse waive your respective rights to an appeal and new trial;
- You and your spouse want a divorce; and,
- Each of you has carefully read the 22-page Summary Dissolution Information(Form FL-810).
Secondly, under Family Code section 2402, the summary disso proceeding can be summarily terminated by either you or your spouse – unilaterally – upon the filing of a Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-830) at any time between the filing of the joint petition and dropping off the judgment for signature at the family law business office six months later. This occurs generally when you or your spouse decides to request other orders from the Court (for example, spousal support or domestic violence restraining orders) that you or your spouse had not anticipated at the time of filing of the joint petition. Not only will you lose the filing fee paid at the time of filing of the joint petition, but you or your spouse must pay the filing fee for a standard Petition and Request for Dissolution of Marriage (FL-100) and the other will likely have to pay the filing fee for the Response and Request for Dissolution of Marriage (FL-120).
The point here is for you and your spouse to be certain you want to proceed with (and meet the requirements for) a Joint Petition for a Summary Dissolution. Otherwise, it can be waste of time and money.
If you do not meet the requirements for a summary disso, and you would like more information on the standard dissolution of marriage, please see Divorce Procedure 101.