Irreconcilable differences

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For the Drew Barrymore movie of the same name, see Irreconcilable Differences.

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

Australian family law uses a no-fault divorce approach, and irreconcilable differences is the sole grounds for divorce, with adequate proof being that the estranged couple have been separated for more than 12 months.

In the United States, this is one of several possible grounds. Often, it is used as justification for a no-fault divorce. In many cases, irreconcilable differences were the original and only grounds 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 possible basis, "incurable insanity," on its divorce petition form.[2]

Any sort of difference between the two parties that either cannot or will not be changed can be considered irreconcilable differences. Some states use the terms irremediable breakdown, irretrievable breakdown, or incompatibility. In some states where the official grounds is irreconcilable differences, the statutory definition of that term may include a waiting period or a mutual-consent requirement.


  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" (PDF). January 2005.