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If you had a same-sex domestic partnership and then a legal marriage, ending your legal relationship to your spouse is twice as problematic as it is for heterosexual couples.

If you're lucky, however, you may be able to qualify to end both your marriage and your domestic partnership at the same time through something known as a summary dissolution.

Here are some things you should know:

1. A summary dissolution is not the same thing as a legal separation. A legal separation leaves you formally married; a summary dissolution ends your marriage and your domestic partnership.

2. If you and your spouse qualify for a summary dissolution, you won't have to appear in court. The paperwork can be filled out and submitted directly to the Clerk of Courts instead.

3. There is a six-month waiting period between the time you submit your paperwork and when the summary dissolution becomes finalized.

4. Either you or your spouse can stop the summary dissolution at any time during that six-month period simply by filing the appropriate forms to revoke the petition.

5. If the petition for the summary dissolution is revoked, you have to start the process over again as a regular dissolution.

6. Very few couples actually qualify for a summary dissolution because of the qualifications:

-- You can't have any children together (including adopted children).

-- You had to have separated from your spouse/domestic partner before your fifth anniversary.

-- You cannot own land or buildings either jointly or separately.

-- You cannot have joint or separate property worth more than $41,000 (excluding cars).

-- You cannot have a long-term lease or option to buy on the property where you live.

-- You cannot have debts that exceed $6,000 (excluding car loans).

-- You and your spouse have to agree to forgo spousal support from each other and agree entirely on how you want to divide any property or debts you do have.

While getting a summary dissolution isn't impossible, it's easiest if you and your spouse are on fairly good terms and can work together. In addition, you should each seek the advice of an attorney who is familiar with the issues surrounding same-sex divorces.

Source: California Courts, "For Couples Ending Marriage And Domestic Partnership," accessed May 03, 2017


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