Globe and Mail

Parental breakup affects more children

Changing Family Structures

Friday, January 8, 1999
Edited by Philip Jackman

About 16 per cent of Canadian children have seen their parents separate or divorce, a figure that has tripled in the past 20 years.

The Canadian Council on Social Development reports that parents are now splitting up when their children are younger. In 87 per cent of cases, children under 12 whose parents break up remain with their mothers. Seven per cent stay with their fathers and 6 per cent live in joint-custody arrangements.

If there's no joint custody, one-third of children see their other parent each week while 23 per cent see the other parent every two weeks or once a month. For the remainder, visits are less frequent.

About three-quarters of children whose parents made out-of-court arrangements for child support receive regular payments. However, about half the children with court-ordered support receive payments.

Marriages, meanwhile, still outnumber divorces. In 1996, 158,680 couples were married in Canada and 71,528 were divorced. Couples in Prince Edward Island (with 6.7 marriages per 1,000 population) were most likely to tie the knot in 1996, while people in the Northwest Territories (3.1 nuptials per 1,000 people) were least likely to walk down the aisle.

Changing Family Structures
 19811996
Married couples without children28.1%28.6%
Married couples with children55.045.1
Lone-parent families11.514.5
Common-law couples without children3.76.2
Common-law couples with children1.95.5

Source: Statistics Canada

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