Barrie Hayes, Partner, Family Law

Statistics Canada has recently released an analytical paper addressing parenting and child support after separation or divorce. Highlights of the paper are as follows:

In 2011, approximately 5,000,000 Canadians had separated or divorced within the last 20 years. Of these, about one quarter currently had at least one child aged 18 years or younger, together.

Most often, the mother’s home was the child’s primary residence after separation or divorce, reported by 70% of separated or divorced parents. Another 15% indicated that the child mainly lived with the father while 9% reported equal living time between the two parents’ homes.

The majority of parents whose child lived primarily with their ex-partner spent either no time or less than three months in the last year with their child: 18% had no contact with their child and 44% spent some time, but less than three months.

Just over one third of parents indicated that majority decisions on the health, religion and education of their child were made either jointly or alternatively with their ex-partner.

Parents often had written arrangements on child residency and time-sharing, at 55% and 45% respectively. In 2011, parents were equally as likely to work with lawyers to draft a written agreement, as they were to go to court for a judge ordered arrangement.

Over half of parents reported they complied with the arrangements on time-sharing, while another one quarter, followed the arrangements for time-sharing most of the time. The top reason cited for noncompliance with time-sharing arrangements was the ex-partner canceling his or her own time with the child.

About three quarters of separated or divorced parents were satisfied with the time spent with their child.

In 2011, 21% of separated or divorced parents were paying some form of financial support for their children, while 26% were receiving child support.

Over half (55%) of all written arrangements for child support where registered with a support enforcement program. Registration in the support enforcement program increased with the level of legal involvement with 76% of judge ordered arrangements being registered with the program.