The divorce process for many people is not as complicated as it appears. Many divorces in California are simple, uncontested divorces. The parties agree to the terms of the divorce, so the process is relatively easy and quick.

However, California offers an even easier, quicker, and less costly option for legally ending a marriage than a traditional uncontested divorce. A summary dissolution is the most streamlined divorce proceeding a couple may choose under California divorce laws. 

Who Qualifies for a Summary Dissolution of Marriage in San Diego?

Eligible married couples and registered domestic partners may file for a summary dissolution of marriage in San Diego. Because the summary dissolution streamlines the divorce process, there is not as much paperwork required for this type of divorce proceeding. In addition, the parties do not need to appear in court. 

Spouses and partners must meet specific qualifications to obtain a divorce by summary dissolution. You and your spouse or partner must meet each of the following requirements: 

  • The marriage or partnership lasted less than five years
  • Neither person is pregnant 
  • You and your spouse or partner have no children together either through adoption or birth during or before the marriage or partnership
  • Neither of you owns any buildings or real estate
  • The only place you rent is where you are living right now 
  • The total debts acquired during your marriage or partnership do not exceed $6,000, excluding motor vehicle loans
  • Your community property (property acquired during your marriage) does not exceed $47,000, excluding motor vehicles ($45,000 for domestic partners)
  • Your separate property does not exceed $47,000, excluding motor vehicles ($45,000 for domestic partners)
  • Neither of you is seeking spousal support or partner support
  • Both of you have signed an agreement dividing community property and debts

Before filing for a summary dissolution of marriage, you or your spouse must have been a California resident for at least six months. You also must have resided in the county where you file the summary dissolution for at least three months.

Domestic partnerships do not have the same residency requirements for a summary dissolution if the domestic partnership is registered in California, even if the couple moves away. However, if the partnership was not registered in CA, married couples’ residency requirements apply. 

How Do You File for Summary Dissolution in San Diego?

The Summary Dissolution Booklet provided by the court explains how to file for summary dissolution, including the paperwork you must complete and file with the court. If you have lived in San Diego for three months or longer (and CA for at least six months), you will file the summary dissolution in San Diego County.

You and your spouse must sign the Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution. Both parties sign under oath that they have read and understand the summary dissolution booklet and that the information in their forms is true and correct.

Documents that must be filed with the Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution include:

  • Income and Expense Declaration
  • Property Settlement Agreement
  • Worksheets from the summary dissolution booklet or a Declaration of Disclosure, Schedule of Assets and Debts, or a Property Declaration 
  • Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment 

Before filing your documents, ask the clerk of court if San Diego County has any local forms that must be included with the Petition for Summary Dissolution, or consult with a divorce attorney to ensure you have completed all the necessary steps. 

When you file your paperwork for a summary dissolution, you must pay the filing fee. However, some individuals with low incomes may qualify for a waiver of court fees.

When is a Summary Dissolution Final?

Your divorce is not final until six months after filing all required paperwork for a summary dissolution. Either spouse may file a Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution if they change their mind during the six-month waiting period.

If a spouse changes their mind about summary dissolution, the other spouse will need to begin a formal divorce proceeding if they want to proceed with a divorce

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer to File a Summary Dissolution in San Diego?

The summary dissolution process allows individuals who meet the qualifications to obtain a divorce without a lawyer. However, that might not be the best choice for your situation. 

If your spouse pressures you to file a summary dissolution, lies on the paperwork, or conceals assets and debts, it would be wise to seek legal counsel from a San Diego divorce lawyer. If you’re in doubt, it is best to talk with a lawyer to learn about your options and legal rights before beginning any court action to end a marriage.