Summary Dissolution

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 What Is Summary Dissolution?

Summary dissolution is a legal process that allows eligible couples to dissolve their marriage in a more streamlined and simplified manner compared to the traditional divorce process. It is designed for couples who have been married for a relatively short period of time, have no children together, and have limited marital assets and debts.

The summary dissolution of marriage aims to reduce the time, cost, and emotional strain associated with divorce proceedings.

What Are the Requirements for Summary Dissolution?

The specific requirements and grounds for dissolution of marriage vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but they generally include the following:

  1. Duration of marriage: The couple must have been married for a relatively short period of time, usually five years or less.
  2. No children: The couple must not have any children together, either born or adopted, and the wife must not be pregnant.
  3. Limited assets and debts: The couple must have limited marital assets and debts, typically falling below a certain threshold set by the jurisdiction.
  4. Agreement on property division: The couple must have reached a mutual agreement on how to divide their marital property and debts.
  5. No spousal support: Neither party should be seeking alimony or spousal support from the other.
  6. Residency requirement: At least one of the spouses must meet the residency requirement of the jurisdiction where the summary dissolution is being filed.

What Are the Steps to File for a Summary Dissolution?

The following are the steps involved in filing for a summary dissolution:

  1. Determine eligibility: Both spouses must determine if they meet the requirements for summary dissolution in their jurisdiction.
  2. Reach an agreement: The couple must reach an agreement on the division of their marital property and debts.
  3. Prepare a summary dissolution marriage agreement: This document outlines the agreed-upon division of property, assets, and debts. It should be signed by both spouses.
  4. File a petition for dissolution of marriage: This is a legal document that initiates the summary dissolution process. It should be completed and submitted to the appropriate court, along with any required filing fees.
  5. Serve the petition: The petition must be served to the other spouse, typically by a process server or a sheriff’s deputy. This step may not be necessary if both parties have already agreed and signed the necessary paperwork.
  6. Complete any additional required forms: Some jurisdictions may require additional forms or documentation to be submitted, such as financial affidavits or child support worksheets (if applicable).
  7. Attend a court hearing (if necessary): In some cases, a court hearing may be required to finalize the summary dissolution. However, this is often not necessary if both parties have agreed on all aspects of the dissolution.
  8. Obtain a judgment of dissolution: Once the court approves the summary dissolution, a judgment of dissolution is issued, legally ending the marriage.

Keep in mind that the specific steps and requirements may vary depending on the jurisdiction, so it is essential to consult with a legal professional or research local laws and regulations to ensure compliance.

Consider aspects such as:

  1. Eligibility criteria: Each jurisdiction may have its own set of eligibility requirements for summary dissolution, including the length of the marriage, the absence of children, and limits on assets and debts.
  2. Residency requirements: Different jurisdictions may have different residency requirements for filing a summary dissolution. Verify the necessary length of residency and any other conditions specific to your location.
  3. Filing fees: Filing fees for summary dissolution can vary from one jurisdiction to another. You should research the exact fees applicable in your area, as well as any fee waiver options that might be available based on your financial situation.
  4. Required forms and documentation: The forms and paperwork needed for a summary dissolution may differ by jurisdiction. You should research which documents are required in your area and make sure they are completed accurately and submitted in a timely manner.
  5. Serving the petition: Research the specific requirements and methods for serving the petition in your area.
  6. Waiting periods and finalization: Some jurisdictions may have mandatory waiting periods between filing for summary dissolution and the finalization of the divorce. It is crucial to be aware of any such waiting periods and the process for obtaining the final judgment of dissolution.

Where Is Summary Dissolution Available?

Summary dissolution is available in several jurisdictions within the United States, but the specific availability and requirements may vary from state to state.

Some states, like California and Colorado, have well-defined summary dissolution processes in place. Other states may have similar processes under different names, such as simplified divorce or uncontested divorce.

Research the laws and procedures in your specific state where you plan to file for a summary dissolution.

How Much Does It Cost to File a Summary Dissolution?

In general, filing fees for a summary dissolution are typically lower than those for a traditional divorce. Filing fees can range from $100 to $400, but check with your local court or legal services office for the most accurate information on fees in your area.

Keep in mind that additional costs may arise for document preparation, notary services, or serving the petition to your spouse.

If you are not comfortable preparing the required legal documents yourself or need assistance with complex paperwork, you might need to hire a legal document preparer or an attorney. Their fees will add to the overall cost of the summary dissolution process.

Some documents in the summary dissolution process, such as the summary dissolution agreement, may need to be notarized. Depending on your jurisdiction, you may need to pay a fee to a notary public for this service.

If your spouse has not signed the necessary paperwork and you need to serve the petition for summary dissolution, you may incur fees for hiring a process server or a sheriff’s deputy to deliver the documents. The cost of this service can vary depending on your location and the specific service provider.

In some cases, the court may require the couple to attend mediation or counseling sessions before granting a summary dissolution. The cost of these services can vary and may be the responsibility of the couple.

Some jurisdictions may require each spouse to provide detailed financial disclosures during the summary dissolution process. If you need help organizing and presenting your financial information, you may need to hire a financial professional, such as an accountant or financial advisor, which can add to the overall cost.

You may also need to pay fees for obtaining certified copies of important legal documents, such as your marriage certificate or the final judgment of dissolution, from the relevant authorities.

These are just a few examples of additional costs that might arise during the summary dissolution process. The specific costs and circumstances will depend on your situation and the jurisdiction in which you are filing.

Do I Need a Lawyer for a Summary Dissolution?

It is beneficial to consult with an attorney to ensure all legal requirements are met and the process is completed correctly. A lawyer can help clarify any questions, draft the necessary paperwork, and provide guidance on your specific situation.

If you’re considering a summary dissolution and would like to meet with a divorce lawyer, LegalMatch can help. LegalMatch is an online platform that connects you with experienced attorneys in your area who can assist with your specific legal needs.

To get started, simply visit our website and provide details about your case. We will then match you with qualified divorce attorneys near you who can guide you through the summary dissolution process.


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