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What is a summary dissolution of marriage?

In California, there are two distinct paths that couples may take to end their marriages - summary dissolutions of marriage and traditional divorces. A traditional divorce takes a couple through negotiations to settle property disputes, custodial disagreements and financial conflicts, while a summary dissolution of marriage involves significantly more agreement on the part of the divorcing parties and streamlines the process for them. The remainder of this post will briefly discuss what a couple must achieve in order to pursue a summary dissolution of their marriage, but readers are asked to talk to their divorce attorneys if they hope to utilize this path to end their marriages.

In order to pursue a summary dissolution of marriage in California, a couple must satisfy several important criteria. First, the couple may not share any children. If children are shared between the parties, then a court will not allow the couple to end its marriage in this more succinct manner.

Second, a couple seeking a summary dissolution of marriage may not have been married for more than five years before beginning the legal process to undo their legal bond. Long-term marriages must utilize the traditional divorce process in order to divorce.

Third, couples hoping to pursue summary dissolutions of their marriages must have few shared items of property, few outstanding debts and must agree as to how they wish to see their shared items of property divided in their post-divorce lives. Additionally, the partners must agree that neither will seek alimony from the other; financial matters must be clearly finalized between the parties to use this path to end a marriage.

Additional procedural requirements will apply to all couples that hope to end their marriages in California. As such, readers who plan to begin the divorce process are asked to speak with family law attorneys about their particular cases as this post should not be used as legal advice.

Source: FindLaw, "California Divorce Process," accessed September 25, 2017

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