Family matters: Being separated or divorced in Canada

Release date: May 1, 2019 Correction date: May 1, 2019

Correction Notice

In the table presenting the percentage separated from a previous union, by age group, the data for 'Women, separated from common-law union' have been corrected.

Family matters: Being separated or divorced in Canada
Description: Family matters: Being separated or divorced in Canada

Family matters: Being separated or divorced in Canada

Of the 20 million people aged 25 to 64 years old in Canada in 2017Footnote 1

  • 1.3 million people (6%) were currently separated or divorced from a marriage; and,
  • 1.6 million people (8%) were currently separated from a common-law relationship.

Is the 7 year itch a myth or reality?

Length of previous union among those aged 25 to 64 who were separated or divorced in 2017
Previously married Previously common-law
Less than 7 years 28% 74%
7 to 9 years 15% 11%
10 years or more 57% 15%

At older ages, being separated or divorced from a previous union was more likely among women than men.

Percentage separated from a previous union, by age group
30 to 34 years 35 to 39 years 40 to 44 years 45 to 49 years 50 to 54 years 55 to 59 years 60 to 64 years
Men, separated or divorced from marriage 2.0% 3.7% 3.9% 6.4% 6.4% 8.9% 6.7%
Women, separated or divorced from marriage 3.6% 5.5% 9.1% 8.5% 11.9% 11.6% 11.7%
Men, separated from common-law union 8.6% 7.7% 8.0% 9.3% 7.7% 7.6% 5.7%
Women, separated from common-law union 9.2% 7.3% 8.3% 8.6% 8.7% 6.3% 7.0%

Those previously common-law were twice as likely to have experienced multiple separations or divorces:

Percentage separated from a previous union, by number of separations or divorces
Separated once Separated twice or more
Previously common-law 57% 43%
Previously married 81% 19%

Source: General Social Survey (Families), 2017.

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