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What does "irreconcilable differences" mean?

Last week's post on this blog discussed 12 grounds upon which a Mississippi couple could get a divorce. One ground for divorce that is very common in other states is "irreconcilable differences." This ground implicates that neither partner is at fault in the divorce, but that the couple simply decided for personal reasons that their marriage should come to an end.

In Mississippi, getting a divorce on grounds of irreconcilable differences has a number of requirements. First of all, such a dissolution may only be allowed if it is a joint complaint of both spouses, or if it is a complaint where the defendant in the divorce has received personal service along with process, or if he or she has entered an appearance and waived process in writing. Complaints that cite irreconcilable differences as the grounds for divorce must be filed 60 days prior to a court hearing on the topic. If a spouse denies or contests a dissolution on grounds of irreconcilable differences, the court cannot grant the couple a divorce.

In addition, if the two spouses are able to come to an agreement with regards to child support, child custody and property division, and if the two spouses put that agreement in writing, they can present the agreement to the court. If the court determines that the settlement is both sufficient and adequate, it may be included in the divorce judgment.

Another way to cite irreconcilable differences is when the two spouses cannot make a settlement that is both sufficient and adequate, then they may offer written and signed voluntary consent to a dissolution on these grounds and allow the judge to make a binding determination upon the subjects that they cannot agree to. The spouses cannot later decide to withdraw their consent unless the court has permitted it.

This is only a very brief overview of irreconcilable differences -- it is a nuanced concept, as are many divorce legal issues. Since this post cannot replace the advice of an attorney or guarantee any specific result in a divorce proceeding, those seeking to divorce based on these grounds should do so with the right help.

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