Divorce Rate in Canada And The Reasons Marriages Fail

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Not all marriages last. While there are fewer divorces overall in Canada, the divorce rate in America shows that a significant number of relationships still end well before “until death do us part”. 

In this study, we cover information about the divorce rate in Canada and marriages. By looking at what the divorce rate is, major causes for divorce, as well as statistics related to marriages and separations, you can gain insights into the impact of divorce on Canadian society.

What is the average age of marriage in Canada? 

According to Statistics Canada, the average age for marriage in Canada in 2021 is 24 years old for women and 27 for men. Ages naturally vary from each region, but the trend is between 24-27. Women marry at a younger age than men. 

Here are some key facts about marriage in Canada: 

  • Number of marriages on average per year: 150,000
  • Marriage rate per year on average: 4.4 per 1,000 total population
  • The youngest age for marriage This age is set at 16 across Canada. This applies to all people who ordinarily live in Canada, regardless of where in the world they marry

What is the Canadian divorce rate?

Statistics Canada lists the 2021 divorce rate in Canada as approximately 2.1 per 1,000 people. This means that there are around 142,000 divorces per year in Canada. 

This is much higher than it was in the ’60s. This is because in the late ’60s The Divorce Act was created to give couples an option for divorce due to a marriage breakdown, which led to a 200% increase in divorces in Canada. An amendment to the act in ‘86 led to another jump in divorces. 

However, the divorce rates in Canada are on the decline. In the early 2000s, there were around 10 divorces for every 1,000 marriages. This has since fallen to six for every 1,000 in the latest studies.

One of the reasons for this is that not as many people are getting married, and when they do it is later in life. Couples with more education and income are more selective about their partners, leading to stronger unions and more successful partnerships. 

divorce rate in canada

What is the major cause of divorce in Canada?

Adultery is one of the leading causes of divorce in Canada, followed closely behind by disputes over money-related issues. Disputes over money, income, and a disparity in earnings between partners can lead to separation which, in turn, often contributes to divorce. 

Other common contributors include a lack of commitment, conflict or arguing, substance abuse, and domestic violence. In Canada, there are three grounds for divorce: cruelty, adultery, and living separately from your spouse. 

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The average divorce rate in Canada broken down

The divorce rate in Canada can be broken down by factors such as age, ethnicity, or whether the couple has children. These all play a significant role in the likelihood of divorce. 

Below you can find demographic statistics relating to divorce rates in Canada.

The average divorce rate in Canada by age 

Age plays a major role in the divorce rate in Canada, with rates being higher amongst younger people and lower for older people. Data in Canada is separated between married women and married men: 

Divorce rates in canada image
Age range for married womenDivorce rate
Under 208.1 divorces per 1000 people
20-2422.2 divorces per 1000 people
25-2921.1 divorces per 1000 people
30-3418.2 divorces per 1000 people
35-3916.6 divorces per 1000 people
40-4415.2 divorces per 1000 people
45-4912.4 divorces per 1000 people
50-548.9 divorces per 1000 people
55-595.7 divorces per 1000 people
60-643.1 divorces per 1000 people
65+1.1 divorces per 1000 people
Age range for married menDivorce rate
Under 202.3 divorces per 1000 people
20-2420.5 divorces per 1000 people
25-2920.8 divorces per 1000 people
30-3419.6 divorces per 1000 people
35-3917.8 divorces per 1000 people
40-4415.9 divorces per 1000 people
45-4913.8 divorces per 1000 people
50-5411.0 divorces per 1000 people
55-597.6 divorces per 1000 people
60-644.8 divorces per 1000 people
65+1.7 divorces per 1000 people

The reasons for the divorce rate in Canada being less likely the older you get include higher levels of trust, children, and shared mutual interests. The biggest divorce rate drop occurs at the ages of 45-49 for women but steadily decreases for men from 25-29 onward.

The average marriage and divorce rate in Canada by ethnicity

The 2017 Statistics Canada data states that marriage rates vary significantly across different ethnicities in Canada. According to the latest research, this is the breakdown of marriage percentages per surveyed ethnic group:

Divorce rate in Canada image
  • 59% of Chinese Canadians were married 
  • 66% of South Asian Canadians were married
  • 57% of Filipino Canadians were married
  • 60% of Arab Canadians were married
  • 57% of Korean Canadians were married
  • 41% of Black Canadians were married

According to data from the Canadian National Household Survey, there are 360,045 couples, or 4.6% of all married and common-law couples in Canada, that are in mixed unions. 

Of that number, 305,075, or 3.9% of all couples, were composed of one person who was a member of a visible minority and one who was not, while 54,970 couples (0.7% of all couples) involved two persons from different visible minority groups.

Compared with the results from past censuses, the proportion of couples in mixed unions is up.

Divorce rates for Canadians by ethnicity were measured by a percentage of married couples within each ethnic group: 

Divorce rates in Canada image
  • 3% of Chinese Canadians were divorced at least once 
  • 2.5% of South Asian Canadians were divorced at least once
  • 2.6% of Filipino Canadians were divorced at least once
  • 3.6% of Arab Canadians were divorced at least once
  • 2% of Korean Canadians were divorced at least once
  • 8.6% of Black Canadians were divorced at least once

The average marriage percentage in Canada for interracial marriages 

There is no information on the average divorce rate in Canada for interracial marriages by ethnic group. However, Statistics Canada, National Household Survey has found that mixed-unions, or interracial marriages, are on the rise. This is especially true for urban areas: 

Visible ethnic groupTotal CouplesPercentage of mixed unions
Japanese32,82078.7
Latin American112,26548.2
Black 167,95040.2
Filipino155,70029.8
Arab94,31525.4
Korean41,37022.5
Southeast Asian74,56021.9
West Asian51,30019.5
Chinese351,64019.4
South Asian407,51013.0
Multiple Ethnicities40,41564.9
Other (not included elsewhere)27,21552.4

The average divorce rate in Canada for couples with children vs couples without children

According to Statistic Canada, nearly one in five children under the age of 18 (18%) had experienced parental divorce or separation. The percentage of children in this situation was relatively higher in Quebec (23%) than in other provinces and territories (17%).

Having children after being married does not reduce the likelihood of divorce. If you have a child before marriage, there can be a higher risk of getting a divorce, approximately 24%. Children in a marriage can be a factor that postpones or makes divorce less likely for couples. 

2020 data shows common-law families are 5 times more likely to experience a parental split than married parents. When there are dependent children involved, divorce usually leads to the formation of one-parent households.

Divorce rate in Canada image

The average divorce rate in Canada for couples who experienced loss or grief

Specific data on the divorce rate in Canada due to bereavement from the loss of a child or family member is not available. However, R. Schwab writes about this subject in his article “Effects of a child’s death on the marital relationship: A preliminary study”. 

In his article, he states that the divorce rates among bereaved parents were not higher than those in the general population or for parents facing similar stressors. In fact, the majority of divorces for couples grieving are due to pre-existing issues in the marriage.

Same-sex marriage rate and divorce rate in Canada

With the legalization of same-sex marriage at the national level occurring relatively recently, there are fewer divorce data available for same-sex couples than for straight couples. Nevertheless, data shows that 33.4% of same-sex couples are married in Canada. 

Data for divorce rates are not as plentiful for LGBTQ+ groups in Canada, but current trends suggest that divorce rates in Canada for same-sex couples are closer to the national average. 

FAQs about the divorce rate in Canada

The divorce rate in Canada varies by region, ethnic group, and age group. We have answered some of the most frequently asked questions about the divorce rate in Canada and around the world to give you better insight into the matter. 

What is the #1 cause of divorce? 

Adultery is the most common reason cited for divorce. Adultery is when a spouse has a sexual relationship outside the marriage. Commitment and exclusivity are core aspects of traditional marriage expectations, and as such infidelity is the main cause for married couples seeking a divorce. 

Which country has the highest divorce rate?

According to the UN, the country with the highest divorce rate in the world is the Maldives with 10.97 divorces per 1,000 inhabitants per year. The divorce rate in Canada is much lower than this.

Who is more likely to commit adultery in a marriage?

According to the divorce rate in Canada data, men are more likely than women to cheat: 20% of men and 13% of women reported that they’ve had sex with someone other than their spouse while married, according to data from the recent General Social Survey (GSS).

Are second marriages more prone to divorce?

It’s true too that many second marriages after divorcing have a higher chance of ending in divorce as well. Dating after a divorce can still work out for you if you want to find the right person for you. After all, anything is possible and dating after divorce is common.

Final thoughts on the divorce rate in Canada

Divorce is a complex subject for many people, and how we approach problems in marriage has drastically changed over time. Whether it is because your partner has cheated on you or because you want to get out of a bad relationship, divorce is sometimes the best solution. 

While divorce trends paint a nuanced picture of modern Canadian marriage, the main takeaway is that divorce rates are decreasing overall. Divorces, while rarely a happy occasion, give opportunities to both individuals that can lead them to a better relationship and happiness.