There were 70,226 divorces in Canada in 2008, or a crude divorce rate
of 21.1 divorces per 10,000 population (Table 2, below). Historical patterns
in the number and rates of divorces are primarily associated with
legislative changes. For much of the 20th Century, there were few
divorces given existing social norms and restrictive grounds for
divorce. Over the last century, the number of divorces peaked following
the 1968 Divorce Act, which introduced ‘no fault’ divorce based on
separation of three years or more. In 1986, the Divorce Act was amended
to reduce the separation requirement to one year or more. The
following year, in 1987, there was a record high of 96,200 divorces and a
crude rate of 36.4 divorces per 10,000 population. For about the last
twenty years, the number of divorces and the crude divorce rates have
been fairly stable.
Similar to the fluctuation in the number of divorces and the crude
divorce rate at the national level from year to year, this also occurs
at the provincial and territorial level. Few divorces occur in the
territories where the populations are relatively small, resulting in
greater annual variation.
Across Canada, the crude divorce rate was highest in Yukon (32.6
divorces per 10,000 population). Provincially, the crude divorce rate
was highest in Alberta in 2008 (24.7 divorces per 10,000 population),
followed by Ontario (23.0). In both 2006 and 2007, Ontario had the
highest provincial crude divorce rate, followed by Alberta.
In contrast, the lowest crude divorce rates in Canada in 2008 were in
Nunavut (8.2) and the Northwest Territories (13.3). Among the
provinces, the crude divorce rate was lowest in Quebec and Newfoundland
and Labrador, at 17.9 divorces per 10,000 population in each province in
2008. These two provinces both have proportionally higher senior
populations than the national average, who in turn are less likely to
divorce. Because the crude divorce rate is influenced by the age
structure, an older population would be expected to have a lower crude
divorce rate. Alberta, in contrast, has a younger population, which
helps to account for a crude divorce rate that is higher than the
Close to one-fifth (19.4%) of divorces that were finalized in 2008
were for marriages of up to five years duration, while a further 22.6%
of divorces were for marriages that lasted between five and nine years.
An additional 41.6% of divorces in 2008 were for marriages that had
lasted between 10 and 24 years and 16.4% were for marriage durations of
25 years or more.
In Canada, the average duration of marriage for persons who
finalized their divorce in 2008 was 13.7 years (Table 3). The average
duration was shortest in Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories
(13.1 years) and longest in New Brunswick (15.6 years), as well as
Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia (15.5 years each).
|rate per 10,000|
| Note: Nunavut is included in the Northwest Territories before 2001.|
Sources: Statistics Canada, Canadian Vital
Statistics, Marriages Database, 1981 to 2008, Survey 3235 and Demography
Division, demographic estimates.
Source: Statistics Canada