Canadian Divorce Statistics

In the year 2020, there were over 42,933 divorces granted throughout the nation. While the pandemic did slow divorce down somewhat, it is clear that many marriages in Canada will eventually dissolve.

This does not count common-law separations, which are often treated, legally, like divorces but are not recorded as divorces.

Here are some of the most interesting statistics.


Divorce Statistics

  • The average age of divorce is 46 years old, more than old enough to have attained significant marital assets.
  • 40% of marriages end in divorce.
  • Spouses can file jointly for a divorce, and 31% of them do just that.
  • Canada has the 29th highest divorce rate in the world.
  • Only 8% of Canadians have prenuptial agreements, despite the high divorce rate.
  • The divorce rate is lower among couples age 50 and up, amounting to just 26%. This is still nearly a quarter of the marriages within this age bracket.
  • The average Canadian divorce costs $18,000.
  • The average Canadian divorce takes 3 years. The minimum amount of time is generally 12 to 18 months, but it can take longer if both couples spend a lot of time fighting over the settlement.
  • 60% of second marriages end in divorce.
  • 73% of 3rd marriages end in divorce.
  • 34% of divorces are caused by domestic violence, verbal abuse, or physical abuse.
  • Infidelity accounts for 27% of divorces.
  • An average of 25% of couples report that money problems played a role in their divorce. In 41% of cases, money problems serve as a “last straw” among many other issues that are already weakening the marriage.
  • 38% of those who try couples counseling still get divorced once they stop going, though attending therapy can offer 4+ years of increased marriage satisfaction.


What Causes Divorce?

There are many reasons for divorce.

  • Infidelity, either emotional, physical, or financial, remains a leading cause of divorce.
  • Inability to resolve conflicts or argue productively.
  • Partners who have a lack of respect for one another, or verbal abuse.
  • A lack of physical intimacy.
  • Domestic violence.
  • Substance abuse.
  • Either partner feels the other is not “carrying their weight.”
  • Significant financial problems, debt, and a lack of agreement on how money should be handled, saved, and spent.


Of these reasons, infidelity, substance abuse, financial issues, and an inability to communicate account for most divorces.


Are you likely to get a divorce?

Certain predictors of divorce do exist.

  • You are more likely to get divorced if one person does all the household chores.
  • You are more likely to get divorced if you have financial problems.
  • You are more likely to get divorced if you get married at a very young age, but there is a window. You are also more likely to get divorced if you marry after age 32.
  • You are more likely to get divorced if this is your second marriage.
  • Major life transitions that introduce stress can put you at risk for divorce.
  • You are more likely to get divorced if one or both of you did not finish high school.
  • You are more likely to get divorced if you show contempt for your partner, or constantly criticize your partner.
  • Even being overly affectionate as newlyweds can be a predictor of divorce. While you don’t want to be distant, too much affection could indicate that you are both desperately trying to plaster over problems both of you already sense.
  • You are more likely to get divorced if you have a habit of withdrawing during conflict.
  • You are more likely to get divorced if you speak about your marriage in a negative way. Maybe it’s time to drop that “old ball and chain” language!


Criticism, contempt, defensiveness and stonewalling are known as the “four horsemen” of divorce. A successful marriage requires both partners to work hard on their communication skills!


You are less likely to get divorced if:

  • Your parents are still married.
  • You’re over the age of 25.
  • You went to college.
  • The longer you stay married, the less likely you are to get a divorce.


What All This Tells You

While divorce rates are falling overall, you shouldn’t bank on being “one of the lucky ones.” It is very wise to plan as if you are going to end your marriage someday, even if you get married later in life and are more selective about your mate.

Getting a prenuptial agreement is one of the very best ways to protect yourself. With a prenup, the major financial issues of divorce are taken care of long before a union dissolves. Both parties know what to expect.

Prenups must be fair—one-sided prenups are neither legal nor enforceable in Canada. This saves you thousands if you are unlucky. It also can protect vital premarital assets like inherited property, intellectual property, and businesses that you might bring into your marriage. The only thing a prenuptial agreement can’t do is settle issues of child custody and child support, which must be settled during the divorce process so that the current best interests of the children may be evaluated.


Did you know? You can also sign a “postnuptial.” This is essentially the same thing as a prenuptial agreement except that you and your spouse come to the agreement after the marriage begins. In addition, most people should be revisiting their prenup every three-to-five years to make sure it continues to reflect their current financial realities. Thus, almost every prenuptial agreement eventually becomes a postnuptial agreement.


Get Help With Your Prenup or Postnup Today

To create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, each member of the couple will need their own lawyer. We can help protect your interests and make sure that your prenuptial agreement is fair and enforceable under Canadian law.

Because we’re a full service law firm you gain access to a wide variety of expertise when you choose to work with us. For example we also have real estate lawyers and business lawyers on staff, which means that we can craft sophisticated solutions that will protect all of your assets.

Reach out to schedule your appointment today.

About Donald I.M. Outerbridge

Donald became the Executive Director of Merchant Law Group LLP starting in 1993, nearly 30 years ago. His experience managing law firms at various levels and in multiple provinces across Canada goes back even further to 1981.