September 28, 2000
The number of Canadian marriages
ending in divorce rose for the first time in four years in 1998.
A report released today by Statistics Canada says that a total of 69,088 Canadian couples
divorced in 1998, up 2.5% from 1997. As a result, the crude divorce rate rose slightly
from 225 divorces per 100, 000 Canadians in 1997 to 228.
Based on 1998 divorce rates, 36% of marriages are expected to end in divorce within 30
years of marriage.
In recent years, both men and women have been getting divorced at a later age. In 1998,
the average age at divorce was 42.0 years for men and 39.4 for women.
Divorces up in all but three provinces The rise in the number of divorces was seen in most
provinces and territories, except Nova Scotia, Quebec and Manitoba.
In Ontario, 25,149 couples got divorced, 1,520 (6.4%) more than in the previous year.
However, this level was 18.1% below the most recent high of 30,718 in 1994.
A notable increase occurred in Alberta. In 1998, 7,668 couples got divorced, 483 (6.7%)
The slight increase in the crude divorce rate in 1998 contrasts with the trend of
generally declining rates since 1987.
The 1998 rate of 228 divorces for every 100,000 people was far below the peak of 355 per
100,000 in 1987, following amendments to the Divorce Act. These changes allowed divorce
after one year of separation instead of three.
Crude divorce rates in 1998 were highest in Yukon (370), Alberta (264), and British
Columbia (246). The remaining provinces and territories had rates lower than the national
average; the lowest rates were in the Northwest Territories (138), Newfoundland (173) and
New Brunswick (196).
Over one-third of marriages eventually end in divorce.
Based on the 1998 total divorce rate, 36% of marriages are
now expected to end in divorce within 30 years of marriage, and 39% are expected to end
within 50 years.
Married couples living in Newfoundland are the least likely to divorce (23% within 30
years). In contrast, 45% of couples living in Quebec are expected to divorce within this
time span. In Yukon, 55% of marriages end in divorce within 30 years.
Couples are divorcing at an older age. Men who got divorced in 1998 were, on
average, 42.0 years old,
while women were 39.4 years old.
Since 1989, the average age at divorce has increased 2.6 years for both men and women.
This trend may be associated with the fact that couples have been getting married at older
ages in recent years. Among divorced couples, the average age of husbands at marriage was
28.3 in 1998, up from 26.5 in 1989. The average age of wives at marriage rose from 23.9 to
25.7 years over this period.
Marriages that ended in divorce in 1998 lasted an average of 13.7 years, compared with
12.9 in 1989.