What are Irreconcilable Differences?

For divorce purposes in California, there are only two “grounds” for divorce: Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage or incurable insanity. Thus, California is a “no-fault” state.

Family Code section 2311 defines irreconcilable differences as “those grounds which are determined by the court to be substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage and which make it appear that the marriage should be dissolved.” In other words, the court must determine that in the minds of the parties the martial differences are so substantial that there is no reasonable possibility of reconciliation.

For example, both husband and wife want a divorce, and neither wants to attempt reconciliation. Clearly, a court would determine that are substantial reasons for not continuing the marriage, and that the marriage should be dissolved.

In another example, wife wants a divorce, and husband does not want a divorce. Wife is adamant that she will not change her mind, and that she does not want to be married to husband any more. Husband is also adamant that he does want to continue to be married to wife. In this instance, there is no possibility for reconciliation because the wife will not reconcile with husband. Therefore, Irreconcilable differences which have caused the irremediable breakdown of the marriage have occurred.

Usually, however, in actual divorce cases, the issue of irreconcilable differences is rarely an issue, and a judge will accept merely the belief of either spouse the marriage is incapable of continuing.

Remember, actual is not an issue for divorce. One spouse cannot get a divorce from the other spouse for fraud, deceit, infidelity, or any other types of “grounds” found in other states.

Next week, we’ll discuss the other reason for divorce in California: incurable insanity.

Categories: Divorce, Family Law
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