A report released in May 2010 by the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics tracked the divorce rate in Canadian provinces and studied about 66 percent of the population. The report concluded that the divorce rate is in decline, and of those divorces that do take place, only about three percent go to trial. Most are uncontested and end in about two years from the time that one of the partners files the legal papers.
We are used to hearing about the high rates of divorce in the US. Is there's something Canadians are doing that keeps them together longer?
According to the study, the decline in divorces actually started in the 1990s. The peak for divorce in Canada was in 1987 at about 362 cases in a population of 100,000. In 2005, the divorce rate was 221 cases in a population of 100,000. The average marriage that ended in divorce in 2005 lasted 14.5 years, or 1.7 years longer than a marriage in the 1990s. Today, according to the stud, about one-third of all Canadian marriages end in divorce.
As for divorce rates in the US, the most recent statistics put it at less than half, but still a higher rate than the Canadians, at about 44 percent.
Not surprising, couples with children are always more willing to try various avenues of support before seeking a divorce. Today, it is also a fact that there are many more support systems in place for couples who are struggling with their marriage than in the past.
With divorce rates at their peak in the 1980s, children with parents that were divorced were able to be more open with their feelings than previous generations. This trend has continued and, when asked about marriage and divorce, these children have surprisingly strong opinions. Many disapprove of divorce and a full 88 percent of teens with divorced parents expect to stay married to the same partner for life.
When it comes to relating to their parents, children also tend to relate to the parent who was blindsided by the divorce. It seem that both the parent who was left and the children work through the process at the same time.
While the lower divorce rate in Canada seems very positive on paper, it may be wise to pay attention to the details.
The Canadian study also reports that marriage itself is on the decline. Numbers from the 2006 Canadian census indicated that 69 percent of families were comprised of married couples – that's down from 80 percent in the 1980s. The break-up of cohabitating couples is not captured in the recent round of census information, so it is possible that the rate of separation among unmaaried couples may actually be high.
This trend will need to be further examined as common law, or cohabitating couples, become more the norm in society.
Regardless of the trends, divorce can be one of the most significant traumas in life and it can become even more complex when children are involved. Often couples forget to seek counseling, and go straight to the lawyers, then to the courts. There are support groups, therapists and outreach programs to help with the healing process.
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