You may not be looking forward to the divorce process, even if you want your marriage to end. The idea of filing a lot of paperwork, going through the discovery process, multiple court appearances and finally a hearing can seem daunting.
Did you know that, under limited circumstances, there is a way in California to bypass most of these steps and get a quicker divorce? It is a type of divorce called summary dissolution.
Qualifying for summary dissolution
You and your spouse must satisfy several elements to qualify for summary dissolution.
You both must agree not to seek alimony. You must have no children together. You must have few marital assets and debts. Your marriage cannot have lasted more than five years. You also must meet California residency requirements for summary dissolution.
If you meet these criteria, you may qualify for summary dissolution.
How summary dissolution works
The summary dissolution process works a bit differently from a traditional divorce.
In a traditional divorce, one spouse files a petition, which is served on the other spouse. In a summary dissolution, you and your spouse file a joint petition.
In a traditional divorce, a judge will decide how your property will be divided unless you and your spouse negotiate an out-of-court settlement. In a summary dissolution, you and your spouse draft your own property division agreement.
In a traditional divorce, you will ultimately have a hearing with a judge. It can take many months if not years before you are ready for a hearing and a hearing is scheduled.
There is no hearing in a summary dissolution. Instead, you will file your paperwork with the court clerk. The judge will then sign off on your divorce. The process only takes about six months from the time you file your paperwork.
Why seek a summary dissolution?
There are several reasons why seeking a summary dissolution can be preferable to divorce. Of course, you first must qualify for summary dissolution to enjoy these benefits.
You and your spouse may have no reason to go through the entire divorce process if you already agree on everything related to the divorce. A summary dissolution allows you to bypass the formal divorce process.
You and your spouse may want to save time so you can move forward on your own. A summary dissolution can be completed quicker than a traditional divorce can.
You and your spouse may want to avoid the stress of a divorce. A summary dissolution generally involves less rancor between you and your spouse, and you do not need to go through an adversarial divorce hearing.
Those who are interested in summary dissolution can discuss this option with a professional. It is important to understand how your rights in a summary dissolution are different from your rights in a traditional divorce.