Is Separation still an Important Component of Marital Dissolution?

  • Wayne W. McVey, Jr. Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, University of Alberta, Edmonton Alberta


This research examines the diversification and changes in the Canadian family form over the past 25 years. While the husband-wife family has declined over this time period, it still remains the dominant family form. Statistics Canada census statistics allows for the examination of new family forms since 1981, as the common-law partnership and the now married have been distinguished within the husband-wife family category. With the introduction of the 1968 and 1985 Divorce Acts, separation became a major ground for divorce in Canada. Marital breakdown should be measured by the incidence of both divorce and separation. The popularity of cohabitation further clouds the measuring of total partnership breakdown since separation of cohabiting partners is not recorded. This research focuses on the change in marital separation and the increase in cohabitation since 1981. Marital separation has declined in its contribution to total marital dissolution since 1985.