Why Is Summary Dissolution Best for Short Marriages?

May 10, 2023
By Alternative Divorce Solutions

When you start a new life with someone, you hope that it lasts forever. Many marriages do last for quite a while, sometimes for life. However, the realities of life can cause a marriage to end earlier than expected. In a short marriage, there can be less assets to distribute. For this reason, ending a brief marriage can be best accomplished with a summary dissolution.

What Is Summary Dissolution?

In this context, “summary” means to do something quickly. In California, the official, legal term for divorce is “dissolution.” Thus, a “summary dissolution” is a quick divorce. California is one of only three states that offer summary dissolution, along with Tennessee and Nebraska.

In a summary dissolution, you can avoid going to court. The entire process requires only the filing of paperwork. You and your spouse can file a Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution together, along with a property agreement. Six months after the paperwork is filed, the marriage is dissolved. You can also use this document to end a domestic partnership.

Summary dissolution fast tracks a divorce, but it can also be halted. Within the six months after filing paperwork, you could file a Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution which stops the divorce altogether. If either party still wishes to move forward with divorce, then the Joint Petition must be filed again. It is a document that is filed jointly, so if one person refuses to sign it, the couple must have a standard divorce.

The Property Agreement

When you file the Joint Petition, you and your spouse must have a plan for dividing property. Since you are filing this document together, you should consider mediation.

In mediation, you hire a third party to help you and your spouse agree on property division. The mediator will keep communication clear, and they can even help you understand one another’s points of view. Using a mediator, property division can be a mutually beneficial process, and it can help relieve tension in a divorce.

What Are the Benefits of Summary Dissolution?

Summary dissolution, by its very nature, saves time. Six months after filing is a long time to wait, but the process itself is not time-consuming. You simply agree to property division; go over the details with a lawyer; file the paperwork; and you’re done.

Whenever you are dealing with a legal issue, saving time also saves money. The process is essentially free. The only money you will spend is for any legal services you secure. You may lose some money in the division of property, but that is not so much money “spent” as it is “fairly divided.”


Not every short marriage qualifies for summary dissolution. Even in short amounts of time, couples can create a large life together. When that happens, a standard divorce is necessary.

To qualify for a summary dissolution, you must:

  • Be married for five years or less
  • Have been a California resident for six months or longer
  • Have no minor children together
  • Not own real estate
  • Mutually agree that the marriage is ending
  • Agree to forgo spousal support
  • Have limited debts and/or assets
    • There must be $45,000 or less in community property, which is property that was acquired during the marriage.
    • There must be less than $6,000 in community obligation, which is shared debt.

Why You Should Seek an Attorney

Technically, you can file for summary dissolution without legal help. This, however, is not recommended. The Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution is an important legal document. It ends your marriage permanently. Anything with that amount of legal significance should be evaluated by a professional.

Lawyers can help make sure you filled out the forms appropriately and verify the information in the document. If either party is dishonest about their assets, a lawyer can help catch that deception. Attorneys can also make sure that both parties are in genuine agreement, verifying that neither person is coerced into a summary dissolution.

If you are considering a summary dissolution, we can help. We may be able to help mediate your property agreement, and we can assist with the paperwork. You can reach us online or at 949-368-2121.


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