Steven E. Springer
Simplified Divorce in California
When a couple disagrees on issues such as alimony or child custody, divorce can be complex and costly. However, the process can be simplified and cheaper when a couple is in agreement.
In California, a simplified divorce, also known as summary dissolution, is available to some couples. It is cheaper, quicker, and less emotionally stressful than a regular contested divorce.
California law provides several eligibility requirements for couples seeking a summary dissolution:
- One spouse has been a California resident for at least six months, and a resident of the county for at least three months;
- The grounds for the divorce are irreconcilable differences;
- There are no minor children and neither spouse is pregnant;
- The spouses separated less than five years after the date of the marriage or domestic partnership;
- The spouses have no real property, other than a lease of under one year with no option to purchase;
- The couple does not have unpaid debts greater than $6,000, other than for a car;
- Their marital assets are worth no more than $38,000, including retirement, but not including cars;
- Neither spouse has separate assets worth over $38,000;
- The couple has signed a settlement agreement, which divides assets and debts;
- The spouses have signed all paperwork for transferring their assets and debts pursuant to the settlement agreement, e.g. bills of sale, title certificates, etc.;
- Both spouses waive any rights to alimony; and
- Both spouses have read the Summary Dissolution Information booklet.
To begin, spouses must first file a joint petition for summary dissolution, which is signed by both spouses. They must also fill out certain forms disclosing their property, income, expenses, etc. Additionally, spouses will need to complete a settlement agreement, which divides the couple’s community property and debts.
If neither party objects, and the settlement agreement is reasonable, the court will then issue a judgment of dissolution and a notice of entry of judgment. Hearings in court are not required. The divorce date will be six months after the date of filing for dissolution, after which either party may remarry.
During the six month period before a divorce is effective, either spouse may file a notice of revocation. This may be done to reject the settlement agreement, to reopen the documentation, or when a couple reconciles. The filing spouse must mail notice of the revocation to the other spouse. The revocation destroys the simplified status, and if the couple still wants to divorce, they must re-file for regular contested divorce.
After the six-month period has expired, if a spouse wants to set aside the summary dissolution, he or she would have to show fraud, duress, accident, mistake, or other similar grounds.
Going through the divorce process can be stressful; however, stress can be decreased in some situations through the use of a simplified divorce. If you are considering a divorce, please contact us for a free initial consultation with a skilled