California Family Law 101: Qualifying for Summary Dissolution

Qualifying for a summary dissolution in California requires more than agreement on assets, debt, and spousal support.
Qualifying for a summary dissolution in California requires more than agreement on assets, debt, and spousal support.

For some married couples in California, there is a way to get a divorce called “summary dissolution.” Many people think this kind of divorce is available simply because the parties are in agreement to end the marriage. The couple’s agreement, even if on key issues such as property and support, does not necessarily mean the marriage qualifies for summary dissolution. Simply put, “quickie divorce” in California is a myth.

In our experience, most couples have to get a “regular” divorce instead. Why?

California law specifies that your case must meet nine specific requirements in order to qualify for summary dissolution. Those nine requirements are strict, and only met in limited situations. Mutually deciding to end the marriage, or simply not owning property or having children, is not enough to proceed by summary dissolution. Every requirement must be met.

Summary Dissolution Requirements

You and your spouse MUST:

  1. Have been married for less than 5 (five) years.
  2. Have no children together (and you are not expecting a new child now).
  3. Do not own any real property.
  4. Do not rent any real property, other than where you live now (note: if you have a 1-year lease or option to buy, you do not qualify for summary dissolution).
  5. You do not owe more than $6,000 in community obligations (i.e., debt acquired since the date you got married). Car loans are excepted.
  6. Have less than $41,000 of community property (i.e., property acquired during the marriage).
  7. Do not have separate property worth more than $41,000.
  8. Agree that neither spouse will ever receive spousal support.
  9. Have a signed agreement that divides your property and debts.

If you do not meet even one of the above criteria, your marriage does not qualify for summary dissolution.

How An Attorney Can Help You

A family law attorney can determine whether your marriage qualifies for summary dissolution.

Our office provides free consultations to prospective family law clients. Even if you do not qualify for summary dissolution, hiring an attorney can help resolve your divorce in an efficient manner. We are adept at resolving divorces, whether they are hotly contested with complex issues, or collaborative and quick to resolve.


By Christina E. Cortino, Attorney. Ms. Cortino is a California attorney, and advises clients and litigates on a wide variety of family law, environmental law, and business law matters. She is also a social media consultant for law firms and attorneys nationwide.

Disclaimer: This publication is designed to provide our clients and contacts with information they can use to more effectively manage their resources and information. The contents of these publications are for informational purposes only. Neither the publication nor the lawyer(s) who authored it are rendering legal or other professional advice or opinions on specific facts or matters. The author assumes no liability in connection with the use of this publication.