Statistics Canada

Tuesday, May 11, 2004


First four years riskiest

Chart - Divorce rate by length of marriage, 2002Marriage stability can be assessed using divorce rates based on years of marriage. About four in every 10 marriages are expected to end in divorce by the 30th wedding anniversary, a rate that has held steady since 2000.

The divorce rate in both 2001 and 2002 varied greatly depending on how long couples were married.

Before the first anniversary of marriage, there was less than one divorce for every 1,000 marriages in 2002. After the first anniversary, the divorce rate was 4.3 divorces per 1,000 marriages. This increased to 18.0 divorces after the second anniversary, 25.0 divorces after the third, up to the peak of 25.7 after the fourth anniversary.

The risk of divorce fell slowly for each additional year of marriage after the fourth. The majority (60%) of divorces in 2001 and 2002 were of couples married for fewer than 15 years.

For couples divorcing in 2002, the average duration of marriage was 14.2 years, up 0.2 years from 2000 and 1.4 from 1993. Married couples in Newfoundland and Labrador are the least likely to divorce, those in Quebec most likely.

© 2004, Statistics Canada.