What Does Irreconcilable Differences Mean?

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Vocabulary is a significant part of the divorce process, and knowing what various terms mean can make a huge difference in your progress towards finalizing your divorce. Filing on the grounds of irreconcilable differences seems to be growing in popularity. If your attorney recommends this claim, do you know what it actually means?

Find out if filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences is the right choice for you and your spouse by understanding the basics of these principles.

Irreconcilable differences means that your marriage cannot be saved.

Every marriage consists of two spouses, each of whom have their own unique habits, opinions, personalities, upbringings, all of which contribute to who they are as individual people. Those items not only contribute to their personality and character, but also can also add up to the breakdown of a marriage. Both spouses could be equally at fault for the end of the marriage in terms of dysfunctional communication.

Common issues that can lead to bigger struggles within the marriage and ultimately lead to irreconcilable differences include parenting, religion, money management, relationships with extended family members, and other day-to-day items. Irreconcilable differences means that the details of a successful, healthy future cannot be worked out between spouses, even with a serious attempt to do so, such as counseling or therapy.

Unfortunately, both spouses do not necessarily need to be on the same page regarding the likelihood of salvaging the relationship. Even if you feel like your marriage is unsustainable based on the issues you are both experiencing, your spouse does not need to agree with you in order to file for divorce due to irreconcilable differences. (This caveat may vary depending on state laws in your area.)

Irreconcilable differences means that no one is at fault.

Filing this status means that your marriage will end in a no-fault divorce, placing equal responsibility for the dissolution of your union on both spouses. Unlike other options for filing for divorce, irreconcilable differences does not place the blame solely on one spouse, or label them as being at fault for the breakup. A fault divorce can be far more difficult and time-consuming than a no-fault divorce, which means that filing with irreconcilable differences can often lead to faster divorce times, depending on your state’s laws.

A faster divorce has more than just the benefit of saving precious time when it comes to moving on with a newly single life. Particularly on behalf of a spouse who was wronged, it can save a significant amount of money on your attorney’s fees. A no-fault divorce allows attorneys to avoid the hefty time investment associated with carrying the burden of proof for whatever underlying reason ultimately contributed to the split, even if the cause was adultery or abuse.

State laws regarding irreconcilable differences will vary.

Keep in mind that each state has its own laws and could possibly even have different terminology for a divorce filed on the grounds of irreconcilable differences. Some states may refer to it simply as a no-fault divorce. Other states may offer irreconcilable differences as the only option for filling for divorce, therefore not allowing one spouse to place blame on the other, regardless of the specific circumstances.

Laws surrounding separation when filing for irreconcilable differences may vary as well. In many cases, these types of divorces can be completed quicker than others, so there will be different separation periods based on state laws before a couple can pursue finalization. While some states offer very quick turnaround times, others require lengthier waits before the courts will accept and finalize your divorce.

In many states, splitting up your assets will not be affected by whether you file for a fault or a no-fault divorce. They are typically divvied up according to the typical standards set for your area and the agreement or negotiation between the two of you, regardless of how you choose to file for your divorce. However, filing for a no-fault divorce (as opposed to a fault divorce) could affect items such as custody, alimony, and child support.

Understand the definition.

In short, filing for divorce on the grounds of irreconcilable differences means that you or your spouse does not believe that the marriage can be salvaged in a way that will result in a successful future together. The implications of filing for divorce based on irreconcilable differences can be far-reaching, including the potential for a faster, less costly divorce process. Be sure to understand all of the state laws for your area before deciding how to file for divorce. This decision could have long-term repercussions for your future, so be certain to do all of the necessary research in advance.

Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA is the host of the “Divorce and Your Money Show” and Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, with offices in Dallas, New York and Hanover, New Hampshire.

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Shawn Leamon, MBA, CDFA

Dallas, Texas

Shawn C. H. Leamon is Managing Partner of LaGrande Global, a firm that helps successful families manage large financial transitions like divorce, inheritance and selling a business.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts from Dartmouth College, double majoring in Economics and Philosophy, and his Masters in Business Administration at Spain’s IE Business School.

Before founding LaGrande Global, Shawn helped manage $1.1 billion in client assets at Bernstein Global Wealth Management. He also worked as a credit research analyst at J.P. Morgan. He is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, and he has been an advisor to numerous high-stakes divorce cases.

Shawn is the author of two well-received finance books: Managing Private Wealth: Principles, and Divorce and Your Money: The No-Nonsense Guide, both published in 2016.

In his spare time, Shawn is an ultra-endurance athlete and has competed in events as long as 24 hours. He is an Eagle Scout and a member of the Alumni Board of Greenhill School.