Uncontested Divorce in California
Learn more about simplified divorce procedures in California.
When a divorcing couple disagrees on issues like child custody and property division, their divorce proceeding can become complicated and expensive. But when a divorcing couple is in agreement on the terms of their divorce, they can typically pursue a much simpler divorce process.
Most states allow for a faster and cheaper option called an uncontested divorce. This article will explain whether you are eligible for an uncontested divorce in California and how to get an uncontested divorce in California.
If you have other questions about uncontested divorces in California after reading this article, contact your county superior court clerk’s office or speak with a local family law attorney.
Requirements for an Uncontested Divorce in California
Uncontested divorce is called “summary dissolution” in California. Summary dissolution is not available to every married couple in California - you have to meet the following requirements:
- one spouse must be a resident of California for at least six months and the county where the divorce is filed for at least three months
- the grounds for divorce must be “irreconcilable differences”
- there are no minor children and neither spouse is pregnant
- there are less than five years between the date of marriage and the date the spouses separated
- neither spouse has any real property other than a lease under one year
- there are no unpaid debts of more than $6,000, besides car notes
- the marital assets are worth less than $38,000 total, including deferred compensation and retirement, but not including cars; neither party has separate assets worth more than $38,000
- the spouses have signed a settlement agreement dividing all assets and debts
- the spouses have signed all documents to transfer any assets and debts according to the settlement agreement
- neither spouse is seeking alimony, and
- each spouse has read the summary dissolution information booklet.
While you can complete a summary dissolution on your own, it is a good idea to check with a family law attorney to make sure you and your spouse meet the requirements for summary dissolution before filing for divorce. You should also have an attorney review your settlement agreement to make sure it covers everything the court requires. A sample settlement agreement can be found on pages 13-15 of the summary dissolution information booklet.
How to File for a Summary Dissolution in California
Prepare your divorce papers and exchange documents
A married couple must file a joint petition to get a summary dissolution in California. Both spouses will sign the petition, which must state the following:
- all conditions for a summary dissolution have been met,
- each spouse’s mailing address, and
- whether either spouse wants to return to his or her former name, stating the name the spouse wants.
Both spouses must also fill out and exchange a number of documents showing their property, income and expenses, including:
- a declaration of disclosure
- either a schedule of assets and debts or property declaration
- tax returns from the last two years, and
- written information about any investments or businesses either spouse has after separation, if they existed when the couple was still living together.
File your divorce papers and settlement agreement
You’ll need to complete a settlement agreement. Make copies of all of the exchanged documents and your settlement agreement for you and your spouse since you’ll submit the originals of everything to the county superior court. You will have to pay a filing fee, currently $435, when you file your petition for summary dissolution and other documents with the court clerk.
Give the petition, required disclosure documents and filing fee to the court clerk, along with two self-addressed, stamped envelopes for you and your spouse. You can find your county’s court clerk office here.
If you have met all of the requirements, the court will issue a judgment of dissolution and notice of entry of judgment that will list your date of divorce as six months after the date you filed for summary dissolution.
Receive your final divorce documents
There are no court hearings required for a summary dissolution in California. The court will either give you a judgment of dissolution when you file your petition and other documents, or mail the judgment to you at a later date.
If you have additional questions about summary dissolution in California, you should speak with a local family law attorney.
To read the full text of the law on uncontested divorce and summary dissolution in California, read the California Family Code § 2400-2406.