Summary Dissolution 2017-11-24T15:56:56+00:00

Summary dissolution is a simplified way to get divorced in California. Summary dissolution is sometimes called a simplified or special dissolution of marriage. Typically, a summary dissolution is quicker and cheaper than getting a divorce. However, not everyone can get a summary dissolution; you must meet certain requirements. The requirements are different depending on whether you are a married couple, in a domestic partnership, or both (i.e. you are married and in a domestic partnership). Remember, summary dissolution is a divorce, not a legal separation.

For Married Couples:

As a preliminary requirement, all persons seeking a simplified dissolution of marriage must satisfy California’s residency requirement. That is, if you are married, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months and in the county where you file for summary dissolution for the last 3 months.

For Domestic Partnerships:

  • Both parties want to end the partnership;
  • The domestic partnership has not lasted longer than 5 years, ending on the date you filed your Notice of Termination of Domestic Partnership;
  • No children born or adopted before or during the partnership, and neither of you is pregnant;
  • Neither party owns any part of land or buildings;
  • Neither party rents any land or buildings (except where you live now, so long as you do not have a 1 year lease or option to buy);
  • Neither party owes more than $6,000 for debts acquired since the date of your domestic partnership;
    o Car loans do not count
  • You both have less than $41,000 worth of property acquired during the domestic partnership;
    o Cars do not count
  • You both agree that neither party will ever get partner support; and
  • You both have signed an agreement that divides your property (including your cars) and debts
    o Click here for a fillable property agreement
    o Click here for a sample agreement with instructions

Remember, domestic partners do not need to satisfy residency requirements to get a summary dissolution in California. So, even if you live out of state, you may get a summary dissolution of marriage in California if you have a domestic partnership (but not for marriages).

For Both Married Relationships and Domestic Partnerships:

This is for same-sex couples who are married and have a registered domestic partnership, and want to end both at the same time. To end both by summary dissolution, you must satisfy the requirements for a summary dissolution for both the marriage and the domestic partnership. Remember, there are slightly different requirements for summary dissolutions of marriage and summary dissolutions of domestic partnerships. .To see if you qualify for both, see the above requirements.

1. Read the Summary Dissolution Information booklet. This is extremely important! You cannot skip this step. You must swear under “penalty of perjury” that you have read and understood the booklet.

2. Find the right court. You must find the right court to start the case in your county. The right court for you is based on the counties where you and your spouse live currently.

3. Fill out your Joint Petition. You must fill out your Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-800) and any required local court forms. Remember, you must both sign the joint petition.

4. Fill out your judgment form. You must fill out the top portion (the caption box) of the Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-825).

5. Financial information exchange. You must fill out your worksheets and financial information and exchange it. Each party shall fill out and exchange an Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150), and EITHER:

As part of your financial exchange, you each must provide the following:

  • All tax returns that you filed in the last 2 years, and
  • Information in writing about any investments, businesses or other income-producing opportunities you have had after you separated, so long as those opportunities or investments were made or came up during the marriage and before you separated.

6. Fill out the forms. Fill out your property agreement and attach it to your Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-800). You can write up your own agreement or you can use this fillable property agreement. Just fill in the blanks and make sure both of you sign it. Here is a sample agreement with instructions. If there is no debt or property, write up an agreement that says that and both sign it.

7. Review the forms. Have your forms reviewed by your court’s family law facilitator or go to your local self-help center for help. You can also hire an attorney to review your paperwork.

8. Make copies. Make at least 2 copies of the forms—one copy for you and the other copy for your spouse. The original is for the court.

9. File your forms with the court clerk. Turn in your Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-800) and Form FL-825 (or Form FL-820, if you had to use that instead), plus your 2 copies of each to the court clerk, together with 2 self-addressed stamped envelopes, one addressed to each spouse. The clerk will file your Joint Petition, keeping the original and returning the copies to you, stamped “Filed.” The clerk will either file and give you copies of Form FL-825 (or FL-820), or hold on to the original and copies, and mail it to you later. (Ask the clerk how your court handles this process).

  • You and your spouse will have to pay a filing fee. Click here to find out how much the fee is for your petition (a.k.a. “first papers” or “first appearance” fee).
  • If you are low-income and cannot afford the filing fee, you may qualify for a fee waiver. See more information about fee waivers here (CREATE HYPERLINK TO THE NEXT FEE WAIVER TAB BELOW)

10. Receiving your final divorce judgment. If you did not get Form FL-825 back right away, wait to receive it, filed and signed by the judge. The Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-825) is your divorce judgment (if you filed Form FL-820, then that is your divorce judgment). Whether you get it when you first file all your papers, or you receive it later by mail, it will have a date on it of 6 months after you first filed your case. That is the date that your divorce is final.

In most cases, including summary dissolutions, you must pay a filing fee. If you cannot afford the court fees, you can ask the court to waive some or all of the court fees (i.e. fee waiver).

Three ways to qualify as low-income to waive filing fees:

  • You receive public benefits, like Medi-Cal, food stamps, CalWorks, General Assistance, SSI, SSP, Tribal TANF, IHHS, or CAPI;
  • Your household income, before taxes, is less than the amounts listed on Form FW-001 in item 5b, or
  • The court finds that you do not have enough income to pay for your household’s basic needs AND the court fees.

Forms:

If you are asking for a fee waiver for the very first time in a case, fill out a Request to Waive Court Fees (Form FW-001), reading the form very carefully and using the Instructions for FW-001 as a guide.