Is Dissolution of Marriage the Same as Divorce in Riverside, California?

05Aug, 22

There are several terms surrounding the ending of a marriage, including divorce, dissolution of marriage, annulment, and summary dissolution. Some of these terms can be used interchangeably, but they all refer to ending a marriage. Understanding the terms and the options they present can be important when considering a divorce case.

What Is the Difference Between a Dissolution of Marriage and a Divorce?

A “dissolution of marriage” is the legal phrase for a divorce, so essentially, they are the same thing. The terms are also interchangeable. However, because “divorce” is linked to fault-based marriage termination, and California allows for no-fault divorce, it’s referred to as a dissolution of marriage. A no-fault proceeding means that either spouse can end the marriage without showing more fault than irreconcilable differences.

This terminology aims at pointing to the no-fault, equitable nature of divorce that exists in California and most states. Despite all of that, though, there is no real difference between referring to it as a divorce or as dissolution of marriage in family law in California. When you decide to dissolve a marriage in family law proceedings, it is going to be a traditional divorce.

A traditional divorce and a dissolution of marriage are both different than legal separation. A legal separation occurs when couples receive a ruling from the court on child custody without filing for divorce or terminating the marriage in any way.

California Divorce Process

The two grounds for divorce in California’s no-fault proceedings are irreconcilable differences and incurable insanity. Filing a divorce doesn’t require both parties to agree, and either party can file. There is a six-month waiting period that California requires, so the completion of the divorce process would be at least six months.

This six-month period starts from either the day the responding party files their response or the day the divorce papers are served, whichever occurs first. Even after those six months, the final judgment must still be signed by a judge, a process that takes time, decisions, and documentation. For this reason, divorce often takes much longer than six months.

When a child or children are involved in a divorce, there must be an agreement of custody or visitation schedules. Disputes over items can be processed and divided most of the time, but the process is still arduous and complicated.

Some couples qualify for summary dissolution, which is different from a dissolution of marriage. This option is much faster and easier, though very few can meet the requirements.

Summary Dissolution

When someone asks specifically about how dissolution is different from divorce, it’s likely a summary dissolution that they’re thinking of. It is the quickest, most effective, and least costly path to divorce in California. There’s less paperwork and one filing fee, and the case proceeds more quickly. The waiting period of six months is still required, as it is before any marriage termination, but the process after that goes more quickly and smoothly.

However, there’s a reason not many people go this easier route. Summary dissolution carries a very specific set of circumstances that you must qualify for first, including the duration of the marriage, the reason for dissolution, agreements over property and property division, spousal support, and more.

These requirements are:

  • Both parties agree to dissolve the domestic partnership or marriage because of irreconcilable differences. They must also both agree to the summary dissolution.
  • Both parties satisfy the residency requirement — that one spouse has been a California resident for a minimum of six months and a resident of the county that the divorce is filed for a minimum of three.
  • Both parties have no children together or no adopted children who are younger than 18. Neither party is pregnant at the time of the filing.
  • Neither party owns land, buildings, or other real property. Any lease must end within a year of filing.
  • Neither party has gained more than $6,000 in debt since the beginning of the marriage. This doesn’t apply to car payments.
  • The marriage between parties has lasted less than five years.
  • The parties have less than $38,000 in community property, which includes assets of debts within the marriage, except cars.
  • Neither party has disagreements over the distribution of belongings and debts or division of community property.
  • Neither party has more than $38,000 in separate property, which is anything owned before or after the separation.
  • Both parties waive their rights to spousal support and the right to appeal the court’s final judgment of entering the summary dissolution.
  • Both parties agree to read and understand the Summary Dissolution Information booklet provided by the California courts.

This is a very long list of very specific requirements, so very few couples qualify. Even if all these requirements are met, both parties must still agree to pursue the summary dissolution. If, at any point during the proceedings, either party changes their mind about continuing with summary dissolution, they can file a revocation of the summary dissolution filing. This would result in the typical divorce process.

If both parties agree with and continue to pursue a summary dissolution, they must then create and agree on a written statement that creates a division of assets and liabilities of community property. Both parties must find the decision of dividing their debts and assets fair and agreeable, as well as exchange financial documents and disclose all the assets and liabilities. Then, with all of this met, a couple can file for summary dissolution.

Summary Dissolution or Dissolution of Marriage in Riverside, California

You can talk with an expert family law attorney to see if you are eligible for summary dissolution or if it’s the best option for you and your spouse. An attorney can also assist with divorce proceedings if a summary dissolution isn’t possible or falls through. Legal assistance can go far in lowering your stress and uncertainty during summary dissolution or divorce proceedings.

By contacting the professional Law Offices of Michelanne Hrubic, you can find an experienced family law divorce lawyer who can assist you with divorce or separation proceedings with care and expertise.

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