Divorce can be costly, which is why one should consider if their marriage is eligible for a summary dissolution in California.

To get a summary dissolution in California, marriage and/or partnership must meet certain requirements. If these requirements are met, some documents need to be filed, a filing fee that is paid, and the disclosure of assets to each individual. If marriage and/or partnership does not meet all of the qualifications, a divorce may be a better option.

What is a Summary Dissolution?

A summary dissolution in California is a summarized version of a divorce. This means that it takes less time and couples do not need to appear in court. There are also fewer technicalities than those that come with divorces, such as less paperwork and potentially fewer attorney fees. Couples who are in a domestic partnership or marriage may qualify for summary dissolution.

Related: Summary Dissolution of Marriage in California

Who Qualifies for a Summary Dissolution?

A couple must meet strict qualifications to be eligible for a summary dissolution in California, including:

  • The couple has no children together (either from a prior marriage, current marriage, current pregnancy, or adoption)
  • Has not adopted any children under 18 years of age
  • Has been in the marriage and/or domestic partnership for less than five years
  • Does not own any real estate or lease property with the option to purchase
  • Has less than $47,000 in community assets, excluding automobiles
  • Does not have separate property worth more than $47,000, excluding automobiles
  • Does not owe more than $6,000 in debt, excluding automobiles
  • Has agreed that neither spouse will ever get spousal support
  • Has no conflicts on how assets will be divided once the marriage and/or partnership is terminated

What to do if all of these qualifications apply:

If a marriage or partnership meets all of these qualifications, then the couple qualifies for a summary dissolution in California. If a couple decides to move ahead with a summary dissolution, certain forms must be completed and submitted to your local county court system. The forms and further information can be found by searching for the county in which the couple resides and/or on the California court system website.

What to do if not all of these qualifications apply:

If a marriage or partnership does not meet all of the above qualifications, the couple cannot qualify for a summary dissolution in California. This means that a regular dissolution (divorce) is necessary. Her Lawyer can connect individuals with divorce attorneys if needed.

Are there any scenarios in which my summary dissolution would go before the court?

Although summary dissolutions in California do not typically require going to court, exceptions may constitute a court appearance. If any of the situations below align with an individual party in the dissolution, a lawyer will need to be hired to have the dissolution challenged in front of a judge. Presenting these situations to a judge can be costly and time-consuming. Each party should be honest and forthcoming on mistakes before submitting forms. The scenarios under which a dissolution can be challenged include the following:

1. You were treated unfairly during the property settlement agreement process

An individual would fall into this category if assets are later found to be more valuable than thought during the dissolution process.

2. You were forced to go through the dissolution process against your will

Individuals qualify for this if proof can be shown that threats or pressure were used to
move the dissolution process further.

3. Mistakes are found in the agreement

Mistakes in the agreement can render the dissolution invalid but may require a court hearing to resolve. An example of a mistake would be forgetting to include assets that increase the value of property owned.

4. Neither party complied with preliminary disclosure requirements

Under California law, it is required that each party discloses financial assets, debts, and property owners to one another and the state throughout the process of a summary dissolution. If it is found that a party did not comply with disclosure requirements, the issue of non-compliance should be brought before a judge.

FAQs About Summary Dissolutions in California

1. How much does a California summary dissolution cost?

Court fees to file for a summary dissolution in California cost $435. Individuals may qualify for a summary dissolution fee waiver. If one partner qualifies for the fee waiver but the other does not, the party that does not qualify will need to pay the filing fee. Individuals may also feel the need to consult with a lawyer on the process of a summary dissolution, which would constitute further fees.

2. How long does a summary dissolution take in California?

From the date of filing, a summary dissolution in California takes approximately six months to be completed.

3. What should I do to prepare for a summary dissolution?

One of the most important parts of preparing for a summary dissolution is figuring out the number of assets the couple has. This can be both monetary and tangible. Some worksheets may be provided by the county of residence for assistance in this process. This may also be a situation in which one wishes to consult with a lawyer to ensure accuracy.

4. What should a spouse do if they wish to stop the dissolution process?

During the six-month waiting period before the dissolution is effective, either member of the relationship can file a Notice of Revocation of Petition for Summary Dissolution. This notice should be brought to the superior court clerk.

Understanding Taxes in a California Divorce

When it comes to divorce in California, there are many things to consider during the process. Understanding taxes in a California divorce is especially important when it comes to deciding whether to file taxes individually or together, as well as how taxes may affect the divorce as a whole.

In understanding taxes in a California divorce, it’s important to consider filing status, property owned by both spouses, and tax exemptions. Although many aspects of life can be affected by a divorce, taxes should be considered early in the process to ensure accuracy and correct filing status.

Will Spousal Support be Impacted Through Divorce in California?

Filing status is the main factor in determining temporary spousal support through the divorce process in California. Spousal support is not reported by the spouse paying the amount or the spouse receiving support. Large differences in support may depend on taxes being filed separately or jointly. Consider the amount of support you are giving or receiving when considering how to file.

What options are available for filing taxes during a divorce in California?

1. Filing Jointly

Divorcing spouses who will still be legally married by the end of the tax year can file jointly. Both spouses must agree to file jointly. Individuals may qualify for filing jointly even if spouses are physically separated, as long as no court ruling terminates the marriage. By filing jointly, spouses may not need to divide deductions or exemptions, which could make the filing process easier and more accurate.

2. Filing as head of household

An individual amid a divorce may benefit from filing as head of household. Filing as head of household can result in a lower tax rate. To qualify as head of household, spouses must have been physically separated for at least half of the year. The individual planning to file as head of household must also have had at least one child in their care for half of the time.

3. Filing Separately

If both spouses do not agree to file jointly and no one qualifies to file as head of household, taxes will need to be filed separately. California is a community property state, requiring those who file separately to include a portion of their spouse’s income on tax returns.

Related: How to File for Summary Divorce in California

Pros and Cons of Filing Jointly in California

Typically, those who file jointly pay less in taxes. Filing jointly can benefit both parties in more than a monetary way. For example, individuals may not need to divide mortgage amounts, deductions, or exemptions.

One should also consider the consequences that could arise from filing jointly. Both spouses would be responsible for paying the IRS penalty for mistakes on the tax return, even if the divorce is complete.

Mistakes could also lead to accusations of tax fraud. Conflicts may arise if a spouse backs out of the agreement to file jointly.

What Happens With the Dependency Exemption in a California Divorce?

If a couple has children together, the spouse who has custody of the children will claim the dependency exemption. Claiming the dependent on taxes will not affect a spouse’s ability to file as head of household, and an additional child tax credit may be received. Parents can agree to split the dependency exemption, allowing for tax relief in the next year.

Related: Marriage Dissolution vs. Divorce in California

Alimony Payments in Tax Filing in California

In California, a spouse making alimony payments may not be required to list spousal support on tax returns. Spouses receiving alimony payments may need to pay taxes on the amount received.

Property Ownership

If property transfers in a divorce settlement do not result in a capital gain or loss for either spouse, taxes will not be affected. However, taxes may change if a spouse sells a property acquired in the settlement process. The property may change in value since being acquired, and the seller may owe property gains taxes on the change in value. There are exemptions to this tax, which include living in the acquired property for two of the last five years.

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If you or a loved one would like to know more about summary dissolutions in California, get your free consultation with one of our Divorce attorneys today!