By Thaddeus M. Baklinski

OTTAWA, November 25, 2009 ( – A new study from the Vanier Institute of the Family by York University professor Anne-Marie Ambert, reveals that the commonly held belief that half of Canadian marriages will end in divorce is not true for most of the country and that in fact divorce rates are falling.

Dr. Ambert found that the answer to the question, “Do one out of every two marriages ends in divorce?” is “No for Canada as a whole but yes for Quebec.”

“The latest estimates by Statistics Canada (2008) put the risk of divorce by the 30th wedding anniversary for recently married couples at 38% for the country as a whole-ranging from 21.6% in Newfoundland and Labrador to 48.4% in Quebec,” Dr. Ambert writes in the introduction to the report, adding a comparison to the US which has an estimated 44% divorce rate.

“People are often led to believe that one out of two marriages ends in divorce because we too frequently use the American media as a source of information and, in the 1980s, it was actually true that one out of two American marriages ended in divorce. This peak time statistic has 'stuck' in the media and in our imagination,” Dr. Ambert points out.

Dr. Ambert accounts for the consistently high and increasing rate of divorce in Quebec by pointing to its “low religiosity” which “is related to lower marital happiness and a higher propensity to divorce” in the province, and to the compounding effect that the “children of divorce,” who are at a higher risk of divorcing as they enter into marriage themselves, have on the divorce rates.

“Divorce greatly increased beginning in 1968 when a new Divorce Act was passed which broadened the grounds for divorce and made divorce available across Canada; in fact, Canada experienced a five-fold increase from 1968 to 1995. Divorce rates peaked in 1987 in Canada … and have gone down substantially during the 1990s and have remained at a lower level since 1997” the report states.

Commenting on the encouraging statistics reported in the study, Brian Rushfeldt, Executive Director of Canada Family Action (CFA), said he is delighted that the popularity of divorce is declining, but attributes the blame for the “horrendous fiscal and social costs” of the 1968 no-fault Divorce Act to Pierre Trudeau's liberal ideology.

Rushfeldt said, “It took 40 years and almost two generations to realize the no-fault divorce that Trudeau and the Liberals espoused was harmful. The fiscal and social costs of that ideology have been horrendous and we will continue to pay for at least another ten years. But thankfully the trend has changed because young people seem wiser.”

According to Dr. Ambert's investigation, while Canadian teens have grown up with divorce as a common occurrence, only 40% of them approve of divorce and 90% of young people expect to marry and to stay with the same partner for life.

“The percentage of young people with this expectation is about the same – actually slightly higher – than when these questions were put to an earlier generation of teenagers some 15 years ago,” Dr. Ambert observed.

The study also considers the effect “living together” before marriage has on the divorce rates and concludes that cohabitation, especially “serial cohabitation,” greatly increases the risk factor of a first divorce.

“Cohabitation represents for many couples, particularly men, a lesser commitment than marriage. Cohabitation is easier to get into and easier to get out of than marriage. Therefore, there is less reason to 'work' at maintaining a relationship that may never have been viewed as a life-long commitment to begin with.

“However, many such less committed couples move on to marriage, and may not be ready for the required commitment. As a result, divorce may follow,” the report states.

Canada Family Action affirms that “the trend toward man/woman marriage, commitment and longevity will strengthen the overall mental, physical and moral health of our culture. Married people live longer and have fewer health problems and they are more emotionally and financially stable. Most important, their children are not vulnerable to the litany of problems faced by many children whose parents divorce. More secure and stable children naturally results in a stronger and healthier society.”

But “the next generation may be adversely affected by the more recent liberal advocacy of marriage redefinition,” Brian Rushfeldt warns.

“As children are now being 'taught' that any kind of relationship is okay and equal, they may become the next generation victims of this false notion.  On the other hand, we hope that today's kids will prove wiser than their parents and reject the attacks on traditional marriage, just as today's generation of young marrieds are rejecting the selfish divorce trend among their parents.”

The full text of the Vanier Institute of the Family report on divorce is available on the organization's website here.