There is a quick, easy way to get divorced called “summary dissolution.” You will not have to talk to a judge and you may not need to hire a lawyer. But remember: it is in your best interest to see a lawyer about ending your marriage. If you need help, talk to your family law facilitator
, self-help center
, or a lawyer. Click for help finding a lawyer
Not everyone can get a summary dissolution. Most people have to get a regular divorce. This section will help you decide if you qualify for a summary dissolution and, if you do, how to file it.
Keep in mind that a summary dissolution is a divorce, NOT a legal separation. Learn about the differences between divorce and legal separation.
If you are registered domestic partners, NOT married, click for help filing a summary dissolution for a domestic partnership. If you and your spouse are married AND registered domestic partners, you may be able to end both, the same-sex marriage and domestic partnership. Click to read the instructions for dissolving both a same-sex marriage and domestic partnership.
Do You Qualify for a Summary Dissolution?
To qualify for a summary dissolution of your marriage you must meet ALL of the following requirements.
You and your spouse:
- Have been married for less than 5 years (from the date you got married to the date you separated);
- Have no children together born or adopted before or during the marriage (and you are not expecting a new child now);
- Do not own any part of land or buildings;
- Do not rent any land or buildings (except for where you now live, as long as you do not have a 1-year lease or option to buy);
- Do not owe more than $6,000 for debts acquired since the date you got married (called "community obligations");
- Have less than $38,000 worth of property acquired during the marriage (called "community property");
- Do not have separate property 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.
In addition, if you are married, either you or your spouse must have lived in California for the last 6 months and in the county where you file for summary dissolution for the last 3 months. If you do not meet the residency requirement, you can still file for a legal separation but you have to go through the regular legal separation process, or wait until you meet the residency requirements for a divorce.
EXCEPTION: Same-sex married couples who got married in California but do not live in California and live in a state (or states) that will not dissolve a same-sex marriage, can file to end their same-sex marriage in California, regardless of these residency requirements. You must file in whichever county you were married. If this is your situation, talk to a lawyer with experience in same-sex marriage laws. Click for help finding a lawyer
I meet ALL of the requirements to file for summary dissolution; go to the next step.
I do not qualify; help me get a regular divorce.
- Read the booklet called Summary Dissolution Information (Form FL-810).
You MUST read this booklet.
- The booklet will help you throughout your case.
- You have to swear under “penalty of perjury” that you have read and understood the booklet.
- Find your court
You have to find the right court to start your case in your county.
- Fill out your Joint Petition
- Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-800). You must BOTH sign this form.
- Any required local court forms. Some courts ask you to fill out local forms when you ask for a summary dissolution. Check your court's website or contact the court to see if you have to fill out any local forms.
- Fill out your Judgment form
Fill out the top portion (the caption box) of:
- Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-825).
- ALERT! Use this form ONLY if you filed your Joint Petition (Form FL-800) on or after January 1, 2011. If you filed Form FL-800 before January 1, 2011, fill out a Request for Judgment, Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-820).
- Fill out your worksheets and financial information and exchange it
You must EACH fill out and exchange:
- Fill out your property agreement and attach it to your Joint Petition, Form FL-800
- You can write up your own agreement or you can use this fillable property agreement. Just fill in the blanks with your information. Both of you must sign and date it. Click for a sample agreement with instructions.
- If you do not have any property or debt to divide, write up an agreement that says that. Both of you must sign and date it.
- Have your forms reviewed
If your court’s family law facilitator or self-help center helps people with divorce and summary dissolution cases, ask them to review your paperwork. They can make sure you filled it out properly before you move ahead with your case.
You can also hire your own lawyer to review your papers or to get legal advice, either with your entire divorce case, or just the parts of it that you may need more help with (called “limited scope representation” or “unbundling”). Click for help finding a lawyer. Click to learn more about “limited scope representation.”
- Make at least 2 copies of your forms (including your property agreement)
One copy will be for you; another copy will be for your spouse. The original is for the court.
- File your forms with the court clerk
Turn in your Joint Petition (Form FL-800) (with the property agreement attached) and form FL-825 (or FL-820, if you had to use that one instead) plus your 2 copies of each to the court clerk, together with 2 self-addressed stamped envelopes, one addressed to each spouse. The clerk will file your Joint Petition, keeping the original and returning the copies to you, stamped “Filed.” The clerk will either file and give you copies of Form FL-825 (or FL-820 if you used that instead), or hold on to the original and copies to mail to you later. Ask the clerk how your court handles this process.
- You and your spouse will have to pay a filing fee. Find out how much the fee is for your petition (also called “first papers” or “first appearance” fee).
- If you cannot afford the fee, you can ask for a fee waiver. If one of you qualifies for a fee waiver, but the other one does not, the one who does not will have to pay the filing fee. Click for information on fee waivers.
- If you did not get Form FL-825 back right away, wait to receive it, filed and signed by the judge
The Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Form FL-825) is your divorce judgment. (If you filed Form FL-820, that will be your divorce judgment). Whether you get it when you first file all your papers or you receive it later by mail, it will have a date on it of 6 months after you first filed your case on Item 1(a). That is the date your divorce is final.
- You will NOT be divorced, and you CANNOT get remarried, until after the date that appears on Form FL-825 as the effective date of your judgment of dissolution (your divorce).
Important: If you decide that you do not want to get a summary dissolution during the 6 months while you wait for your divorce to become final, you must file a Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution (Form FL-830) with the court. The Notice of Revocation can be filed by either spouse. It invalidates (cancels) the summary dissolution case and the judgment on Form FL-825. If you or your spouse still wants to get divorced, you can file for a regular divorce. Click for help getting a regular divorce.
Forms - Summary Dissolution for Married Couples
If you are in a domestic partnership only (not also married), click for an easier way to end your partnership.
You may not need all of these forms. Or you may need more forms. If you are not sure which forms to use, talk to your family law facilitator, self-help center, or a lawyer. Click for help finding a lawyer.
To download a form (in PDF format), click on the form number in the table below.
|Joint Petition for Summary Dissolution (Family Law — Summary Dissolution)
||Both of you must sign this form. |
|Summary Dissolution Information
||FL-810. Includes instructions for Forms FL-800, FL-820, FL-825 and FL-830.|
|Request for Judgment, Judgment of Dissolution of Marriage, and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Family Law — Summary Dissolution)
Use this form ONLY if you filed Form FL-800 before 1/1/2011. If you filed it after 1/1/2011, use Form FL-825 instead.
|Judgment of Dissolution and Notice of Entry of Judgment (Family Law — Summary Dissolution)
||Use this form if you filed Form FL-800 on or after 1/1/2011.|
|Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution (Family Law — Summary Dissolution)
||Use this form if you want to stop the summary dissolution process any time between the date you filed FL-800 and 6 months later, when your divorce becomes final.|
Worksheets and Financial Information
Fill out this property agreement unless you write up your own.