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Family Life - Divorce

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Divorce marks the legal end of a marriage. The family unit is dissolved when the formerly married couple becomes two separate entities. Divorce can be a stressful event in the lives of family members. While it may be the best choice under the circumstances, divorce can have a negative impact on the financial, social, psychological, and physical well-being of the couple divorcing and their children.

The divorce indicator provides information on the probability of a legal marriage ending in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary. It also provides information on the average age at divorce. 

This indicator does not measure the break-up of common-law unions.

Summary

  • National Picture — Fluctuating between 35% and 42%, the proportion of marriages projected to end in divorce has remained relatively stable during the last 20 years. In 2008, 40.7% of marriages were projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary.
  • Age and Gender — In 2008, the average age at divorce was 44.5 for men and 41.9 for women.
  • Regions — In 2008, Yukon had the highest proportion (59.7%) of marriages projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary, while Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest (25.0%).

National Picture

In 2008, there were 70,226 divorces in Canada or 2.11 divorces per 1,000 people.[1]

The total divorce rate represents the proportion of new marriages projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary, if the divorce rates by marriage duration observed in a given year are repeated in the future. After a change to the Divorce Act in 1986 that allowed divorces after only one year of separation (instead of three years before), the total divorce rate in 1987 reached a high of 506 divorces per 1,000 marriages. This means that of marriages which took place in 1987, 50.6% were projected to end in divorce before their thirtieth anniversary.

Since the end of the 1980’s, the percentage has fluctuated between 35% and 42%. In 2008, 40.7% of marriages in Canada were projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary.


This Chart contains data for 30 year total divorce rate, Canada, 1986-2008. Information is available in table below

Note: Statistics Canada didn't calculate divorce rates by marriage duration and total divorces rates for 2005.

Source: For 1986 to 1996, Statistics Canada: Vital statistics compendium, 1996. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, Heath Statistics Division, 1999 (Cat. No. 84-214-XPE); for 1997 to 2003: Statistics Canada. Divorces. Shelf tables. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 1999-2005; for 2004: 30 and 50 year total divorce rates per 1,000 marriages, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (rate per 1,000 marriages) (CANSIM Table 101-6511). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2008; and for 2006-2008: Statistics Canada, Health Statistics Division, Canadian Vital Statistics, Divorce Database and Marriage Database. Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

30 year total divorce rate, Canada, 1986-2008 (per 1000 marriages)
1986198719881989199019911992199319941995199619971998199920002001200220032004200620072008
414506437422407396405401405400369348361373376379376383379419418407

Age and Gender

In 2008, the average age at divorce was 44.5 for men and 41.9 for women. Between 1988 and 2008, the average age at divorce increased by 5.3 years for both men and women.


This Chart contains data for Average age at divorce, 1988-2008. Information is available in table below

Note: Average age at divorce is calculated using data from actual divorces occurring in a particular year.

Source: For 1988: Statistics Canada. Divorces, 1991, Shelf Tables. (Cat. no. 84-213); For 1989 to 1992: Statistics Canada. Divorces, 1992, Shelf Tables. (Cat. no. 84-213); For 1993 to 1995: Statistics Canada. Divorces, 1996 and 1997, Shelf Tables. (Cat. no. 84F0213XPB); For 1996 and 1997: Statistics Canada. Divorces, 1999 and 2000, Shelf Tables. (Cat. no. 84F0213XPB); For 1998 to 2002: Statistics Canada. Divorces 2001 and 2002, Shelf Tables. (Cat. no. 84F0213XPB); for 2003: Statistics Canada. Divorces 2003, Shelf Tables. (Cat. no. 84F0213XPB); For 2004 and 2005: Statistics Canada. Mean age and median age at divorce and at marriage, by sex, Canada, provinces and territories, annual (CANSIM Table 101-6502). Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2008; for 2006 to 2008: Statistics Canada, Health Statistics Division, Canadian Vital Statistics, Divorce Database, Ottawa, Statistics Canada, 2011.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Average age at divorce, 1988-2008 (years)
198819891990199119921993199419951996199719981999200020012002200320042005200620072008
Men39.238.939.139.439.639.74040.541.541.94242.442.642.843.143.443.84444.244.444.5
Women36.636.336.536.736.93737.437.838.939.339.439.84040.240.540.841.241.441.641.841.9

Regions

In 2008, 59.7% of marriages in Yukon were projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary. This was the highest percentage among Canadian provinces and territories. The percentage for Quebec (47.4%), Alberta (46.0%) and Ontario (42.1%) were also higher than the national percentage of 40.7%. Newfoundland and Labrador had the lowest percentage at 25.0%.


This Chart contains data for 30 year total divorce rate, by region, 2008. Information is available in table below

Note: The total divorce rate represents the proportion of new marriages projected to end in divorce before the thirtieth wedding anniversary, if the divorce rates by marriage duration observed in a given year are repeated in the future.

Source: Statistics Canada, Health Statistics Division. Canadian Vital Statistics, Divorce Database and Marriage Database, Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

30 year total divorce rate, by region, 2008 (per 1000 marriages)
CANNLPENSNBQCONMBSKABBCYTNT and NU
407250317311297474421315303460371597351

In 2008, the average age at divorce for both men and women was below the national average (44.5 years for men and 41.9 years for women) in: Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and Nunavut. Nunavut had the lowest average ages at divorce for both men (42.6 years) and women (38.4 years).

Yukon had the highest average age of men at divorce (47.1 years), while Quebec and Nova Scotia had the highest average age of women at divorce (43.7 years).


This Chart contains data for Average age at divorce, by region, 2008. Information is available in table below

Note: Average age at divorce is calculated using data from actual divorces occurring in a particular year.

Source: Statistics Canada, Health Statistics Division. Canadian Vital Statistics, Divorce Database and Marriage Database, Ottawa: Statistics Canada, 2011.


Warning: This data table may contain very wide content. Horizontal scrolling may be necessary.

Average age at divorce, by region, 2008 (years)
CANNLPENSNBQCONMBSKABBCYTNTNU
Men44.545.045.146.245.246.243.844.343.843.744.947.144.442.6
Women41.942.742.443.743.043.741.241.841.141.142.143.242.938.4

Footnotes

  1. Statistics Canada. 2011. Divorces and crude divorce rates, Canada, provinces and territories, annual. (CANSIM table 101-6501) (in Excel format). Ottawa: Statisitcs Canada, 2011. 

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