Irreconcilable differences

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The concept of irreconcilable differences provides a possible ground for divorce in a number of jurisdictions.

In Australian family law, with no-fault divorce, it is the sole ground, adequate proof being that the estranged couple have been separated more than 12 months.

In the United States, it can be one ground. Often it is used as justification for a no-fault divorce. In many cases, irreconcilable was the original and only ground for no-fault divorce, such as in California, which enacted America's first purely no-fault divorce law in 1969.[1] California now lists one other ground, "incurable insanity," on its divorce petition form.[2]

Any sort of difference between the two parties that either cannot be changed or the individual does not want to change can be considered irreconcilable differences. Some states use the terms irremediable breakdown, irretrievable breakdown, or incompatibility. However, in some states the official ground is irreconcilable differences or one of the other "I" grounds, but then the state's statutory definition of that term may include a waiting period or a mutual-consent requirement.

The only state that uses the concept of irreconcilable differences in anything like the way it was originally intended[by whom?] is Tennessee, where the courts will occasionally reject an irreconcilable differences claim as not stating differences that are truly irreconcilable.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Robbins, Norman N. (1973). "Have We Found Fault in No Fault Divorce?". The Family Coordinator 23 (3): 361. 
  2. ^ "Form FL-100 Petition for the Dissolution of Marriage". January 2005.