| Read Time: 3 minutes | Family Law
marriage is irretrievably broken

In a no-fault divorce state like California, you are not required to prove your spouse’s wrongdoing to obtain a divorce. Instead, you can cite irreconcilable differences as the reason for the split. But what does it mean for a marriage to be irretrievably broken in legal terms? Irretrievably broken means that the marriage has reached a point where it cannot be salvaged or repaired. 

If you are considering divorce in California and questioning whether your marriage meets the criteria, this post is tailored to help you. In the following sections, we will:

  • Explore the legal definition of this term under California’s divorce system, 
  • Detail the common signs of irreconcilable differences,
  • Explain what happens during a contested divorce, and
  • Answer some frequently asked questions.

Pakpour Bank LLP is available to discuss your case and help you understand the legal process.

The Legal Meaning of Irretrievably Broken in California

According to California Family Code § 2311, an irretrievably broken marriage is one where significant reasons make it impossible for the couple to continue their marital partnership. These reasons, also known as irreconcilable differences, signify that the marriage needs to be dissolved.

The judge does not attribute fault; rather, they acknowledge a significant breakdown in the marital partnership. In simpler terms, the court recognizes a severe breakdown with no reasonable chance of reconciliation.

Eight Signs Your Marriage Is Irretrievably Broken

Irreconcilable differences manifest in various ways. Here are some common examples.

  • Constant conflict and communication breakdown. Endless arguments, a hostile environment, and the inability to communicate effectively lead to emotional distancing and a breakdown of the relationship.
  • Lack of intimacy. Emotional or physical intimacy, or both, may dwindle significantly. When such intimacy no longer exists, it often leaves a void that cannot be filled.
  • Infidelity. For many couples, broken trust due to infidelity can be a deal-breaker. 
  • Financial issues. Disagreements about money management, debt, or spending habits can create a significant strain on a marriage. If the couple is not able to seek help and reconcile their behavior to mutual goals, financial issues can mean deep dissatisfaction and an end to the relationship.
  • Differing values and life goals. Reconciliation might seem impossible when spouses have fundamentally different views on major issues they must deal with. These issues include religion, parenting styles, or future aspirations—or any major part of one spouse’s life that does not correspond or blend well with the other spouse’s priorities.
  • Substance abuse. Addiction to drugs, alcohol, or gambling can severely damage a marriage.
  • Domestic violence. Physical or emotional abuse creates a toxic environment. Such an environment can make it impossible to sustain a healthy marriage.
  • Growing apart. Sometimes, couples drift apart gradually over time, losing their connection and shared interests without a specific triggering event.

Any situation that permanently damages the marital union and destroys all hope of reconciliation can be considered an irreconcilable difference.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Do I Need to Go to Court to Get a Divorce in California?

While not always required, most divorces involve court appearances for legal matters like child custody and property division. Uncontested divorces where the couple does not have minor children or complex financial issues might be eligible for summary dissolution—a streamlined process to expedite divorce proceedings. You will likely have to attend at least one hearing to finalize your divorce.

How Long Does a Divorce Typically Take in California?

The time it takes to finalize a divorce depends on whether it is contested or uncontested. Uncontested divorces can typically be completed in about six months. Due to their complexity, contested divorces may take a year or more to resolve.

What If I’m Unsure If My Marriage Is Irretrievably Broken?

Consulting with a marriage and family therapist, counselor, mediator, or attorney can help you explore reconciliation possibilities. These professionals can provide guidance and support to help you make informed decisions. 

What Happens If We Can’t Agree on Child Custody or Property Division?

If you and your spouse can’t reach an agreement, you may need to go through mediation or litigation. If mediation doesn’t work and the case goes to trial, a judge will decide these issues.

Ready to Take the Next Step?

If you have an irretrievably broken marriage, it is essential to consult a skilled family law attorney if you are thinking about getting a divorce. The dedicated team at Pakpour Banks LLP understands the complex nature of divorce proceedings in California.

Serving residents throughout Northern California and the Central Valley, we are committed to protecting your rights and striving for a fair and successful outcome. Our compassionate Davis divorce lawyers will actively listen to your concerns and offer tailored legal advice to guide you through the divorce process. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and discuss your specific situation.

Author Photo

Brian enters the family law profession with a refreshing approach to these proceedings: heal families; don’t destroy them. In some cases, this means the family is going to look different than it did before. In other cases, this means a new family is created where there was none before. Either way, individuals should leave family court knowing their voices were heard, and with healthy attitudes about themselves and those they love.

Read More Legal Blogs By Brian Pakpour

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