Is Summary Dissolution the Same as Divorce?

If you live in California and want to cut legal ties with your spouse or domestic partner, you may be eligible for a summary dissolution – an inexpensive method of legally parting ways that takes less time than traditional divorce.

Intrigued? We don’t blame you. After all, a “traditional” divorce – complete with a pricey divorce lawyer and a nerve-wracking marital trial – can be one of the most expensive and gut-wrenching experiences of a lifetime. 

At Hello Divorce, we know all about summary dissolutions and online divorces, and we can help you through the process. But before you embark on a summary dissolution, you must understand the summary dissolution requirements. The first requirement, as mentioned, is that you must live in California. 

Here’s what else you need to know.

What are the eligibility requirements for Summary Dissolution?

To qualify for summary dissolution, the following must be true of your relationship:

  • You’ve been married less than five years.
  • You have no minor children and are not pregnant.
  • Neither of you seeks spousal support.
  • You don’t share much property, and you agree on how to divide the little property you do share.
  • As a couple, excluding a car loan, you have accrued no more than $7,000 in debt.
  • The value of your community and the joint property sits under $53,000 (up from $47,000 as of January 1, 2024).

Residency requirement

In addition to the above-mentioned criteria, there is a specific residency requirement for summary dissolution you should know about. According to the Judicial Branch of California, to qualify for summary dissolution, at least one member of a married couple or unregistered domestic partnership in California must have lived in the state for a minimum of six months. Further, that person must have lived in their filing county for a minimum of three months.

You may be thinking this sounds too good to be true, and you may be wondering if a summary dissolution is the same thing as divorce. Read on to find out.

What are the differences between summary dissolution and divorce?

Whether you get a summary dissolution or a divorce, the outcome is the same: Your union with your spouse or domestic partner legally ends. And, as we mentioned, a summary dissolution costs less than a traditional divorce and takes less time. How can this be?

Less paperwork

When you file for traditional divorce in California, you must submit a series of documents. (View our document checklist here.) But when you file for summary dissolution in California, the paperwork burden is considerably less. 

Lower cost

The price of a summary dissolution is a lot lower than that of a traditional divorce. For example, the filing fee for traditional divorce in California is $435 per person. The filing fee for summary dissolution is $435 per couple. And you’re not paying a divorce lawyer to represent you in court because no court appearances are required for summary dissolution.

How can Hello Divorce help end your marriage in California?

Summary Dissolution

For clients who meet summary dissolution requirements, Hello Divorce can prepare, process, and file all of the documents for you. The cost for this service is a flat fee of $1,500. And since there is no trial and no hearing in summary dissolution, this process is very similar to – but often less expensive than – online divorce.

Pro, Plus, and Mediation Plans

Clients who do not meet summary dissolution requirements can get divorced through Hello Divorce by purchasing one of our membership plans. Our most comprehensive plan, Meditation (cooperative divorce), includes five hours of mediation and costs $3,800. Our Plus and Pro plans cost $2,500 and $1,500 respectively. Each of these plans includes step-by-step expert help as you move through your online divorce; the services of the former cover both spouses, whereas the latter covers just you. (Note: Court filing fees are not included in this plan.)

DIY online divorce

One of our most popular plans is the DIY Divorce. Using our software platform, you fill out all the necessary forms to complete your online divorce. (Note: Court filing fees are not included in this plan, either.)

As you can see, whether you qualify for summary dissolution or must take another path, Hello Divorce can help you achieve your goal of cutting legal ties with your spouse and starting a new life chapter. You have multiple affordable options, and you are not alone. 

Co-Founder & President
Divorce Preparation, Divorce Process, Divorce Guidelines, Legal Insights

Heather is Hello Divorce's co-founder, President and Chief Content Officer, and our resident expert on divorce rules, procedures and guidelines across the states. Heather uses her content background, deep legal knowledge, and coding skills to author most of our state-specific divorce software. Heather joined Hello Divorce two months into a planned year-long vacation from the start-up world because she was convinced that the legal world is one of the only things left that truly needed disruption. Since her expertise (obsession) is making complex, frustrating processes easier – and even enjoyable – for consumers, Heather leads the product, customer service, marketing, and content teams at Hello Divorce.

Heather has a Master's in Journalism from Northwestern University and a BA from the University of Notre Dame. Heather lives in California with her husband, two kids, and too many pets. You can often find her answering Hello Divorce's free info calls on weekends, and in her free time, she dabbles in ukulele, piano, and electric bass.