First Step: Confirm that You Qualify for Summary Dissolution
Not everyone can get a summary dissolution. Most people have to get a regular divorce. You qualify for summary disso if all apply: Married less than 5 years; No children together; No land/building ownership; No land or building rental (except for where you now live, as long as you do not have a 1-year lease or option to buy); Owe less than $6,000 for debts (not including car loans) since date of marriage; Owe less than $38,000 worth of property (again not counting your cars) acquired during the marriage; No separate property, not including your cars, worth more than $38,000; Agree that neither spouse will ever get spousal support; AND Have signed an agreement that divides your property (including your cars) and debts.
Additionally, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months and in the county where you file for summary disso for the last 3 months.
Second Step: Continue to Educate Yourself on the Process
The Judicial Council of California puts out a booklet which is a must read for anyone pursuing a summary dissolution. The booklet is called Summary Dissolution Information it is also available by its form name "Form FL-810". You can obtain this booklet online through the website for the California Judicial Counsel; through your court's website; through the judicial council's website; or you can obtain a hard copy of the booklet from your courthouse.
Third Step: Fill Out the Paperwork
Petition-Fill out the Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (FL-800). Both you and your spouse must sign this form.
You may also be required to file forms required specifically by your courthouse -- "local court forms". Check with your court to see if you have to fill out any local court forms.
Judgment - Fill out the caption box of the Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment (FL-825). The caption box is the top part of the form.
Financial Documents- Fill out and exchange the Income and Expense Declaration (Form FL-150).
Agreement- Fill out your Agreement regarding any property and/or debt that needs to be distributed and attach it to your Petition.
If you have questions about the agreement, consider obtaining legal advice solely for the purpose of reviewing your agreement.
Make 2 copies of your documents. The original set of documents is for the court. One copy of documents will be for you, the other copy will be for your spouse.
Fourth Step: File Your Forms
The courthouse in which you will file is based on the counties where you and your spouse currently reside. You can file in any county that you or your spouse has lived in for the preceding 3 months, as long as the 6 month California residency requirement has been met.
Once you know where to file, turn in the: Petition, with Agreement attached (if appropriate); Judgment; and all copies, together with 2 self-addressed stamped envelopes (1 addressed to each spouse.) The clerk will file the Petition, keeping the original and returning the copies to you, stamped "Filed". The clerk will keep the Judgment and mail the copies of this form to you later.
When submitting your papers, a filing fee will be due. The filing clerk will be able to tell you the fee. If you cannot afford the fee, ask for a fee waiver. (A waiver is a form you fill out and submit for a judge to determine if fees can be waived.) Either party may apply for a fee waiver for him/herself.
Fifth Step: Hurry Up and Wait
Once your documents are submitted, you wait to get your Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-825) back from the court. When you receive it by mail (in one of the your self-addressed stamped envelopes that you previously provided to the court), it should be signed by the judge.
This document will set forth the terms of your divorce, including the date your divorce is final. Your divorce date will be at least 6 months after the date you initially filed your Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-800). Please keep in mind that you will NOT be divorced until the date indicated on the judgment.
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