A Study of Post-Separation/Divorce Parental Relocation

4.0 Review of Existing Canadian Data

This chapter examines the existing Canadian data from large-scale population surveys on parental relocation following separation or divorce. Examination of the data was guided by the following questions contained in the RFP issued by Justice Canada referring to both the general population in Canada as well as to separated/divorced families:

  • How many people relocate (as a population as a whole and separated/divorced parents)?
  • How many people make frequent moves?
  • How far do they go (i.e., within the same city, within the same province, to another Canadian jurisdiction, outside the country)?
  • Who is more likely to move?
  • Who is more likely to move more frequently (i.e., the factors associated with relocation in general, and for separated/divorced parents in particular)?
  • Why do people move (i.e., income-related, work-related, neighbourhood-related)?

4.1 Census data

The Canadian census, conducted every five years, collects basic socio-demographic information on all residents of Canada. While data specifically related to parental relocation following relationship breakdown is not collected, information is available regarding legal marital status, i.e., never legally married (single), currently living in a common-law relationship, legally married (and not separated), separated but still legally married, divorced, and widowed. Information is also available on whether residents have moved in the previous one or five years, and the extent of the move, i.e., within the same census subdivision (municipality), to a different census subdivision but within the same province, or to a different province. The census also captures data on individuals who have moved to Canada from a different country, but obviously cannot report on individuals who have moved from Canada. In addition, information on the presence of children is available.

It should be noted that because the census data were not collected specifically to provide information on parental relocation, there are a number of limitations to the data. While data on legal marital status are available, it is not possible to determine when changes in marital status occurred. Thus, for example, while it is possible to determine that a person is divorced and that they changed residence in the past five years, it is not known when the divorce occurred and consequently whether the relocation was related to a change in marital status. Further, an individual may have experienced more than one change in marital status in the past five years, e.g., a person could have divorced and remarried in the past five years, but would be classified as legally married in the data. The second limitation to using census data to examine relocation issues is that it is impossible to determine how many times a person has moved in the past five years. A third limitation is that the single category for legal marital status only includes children aged five and older and thus data pertaining to this category should be interpreted with caution. A fourth limitation is that it was only possible to isolate people living in common-law relationships in the 2001 and 2006 census data; thus the 1991 and 1996 data include common-law in all subsets except legally married. Finally, it should be noted that census data are cross-sectional, and thus cannot be used to infer causal relationships between variables.

4.1.1 Mobility trends

Figure 4.1 presents the proportion of individuals who moved at least once at some time within the previous five years by marital status for the past four census periods. Across all marital statuses, there is a consistent trend for mobility to decrease over time. Further, in most instances, separated and divorced individuals were more likely to move than single, married, or widowed individuals. For example, two-thirds (66 percent) of separated people had moved within the past five years in 1991 compared to one-half of single people (52 percent) and two-fifths of married individuals (41 percent). While overall the percentages of individuals who moved were lower in 2006, the pattern remained the same, i.e., 57 percent of separated people had moved compared to 47 percent of singles and 34 percent of married people.

Figure 4.1 Percentage of population who moved by marital status and census yeara

Figure 4.1 Percentage of population who moved by marital status and census year

Figure 4.1 - Text equivalent

Figure 4.1 is a line graph that presents the percentage of the population who moved at least once at some time within the previous five years by marital status and census year, according to Statistics Canada 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 Census data. The census years 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 are shown on the x axis, and the percentage of the population who moved is shown on the y axis (on a scale of 0 to 70). Five categories of marital status are plotted on the line graph: separated; divorced; single; married; and widowed. With the exception of those who were legally married and not separated, all marital status categories include those in common-law relationships. Across all marital statuses, the figure shows there is a consistent trend for mobility to decrease over time. Further, in most instances, separated and divorced individuals were more likely to move than single, married, or widowed individuals.

The top line in the figure presents the data for separated individuals, with data points of 66 percent (1991), 65 percent (1996), 61 percent (2001), and 57 percent (2006). The second from the top line presents the data for divorced individuals, with data points of 61 percent (1991), 57 percent (1996), 51 percent (2001), and 45 percent (2006). The middle line presents the data for single people, with data points of 52 percent (2001), 49 percent (1996), 49 percent (2001), and 47 percent (2006) (at which point this line crosses the second line, indicating that single people were more likely to have moved than divorced people in the five years previous to the 2006 Census). The fourth line from the top presents the data for married individuals, with data points of 41 percent (1991), 36 percent (1996), 35 percent (2001), and 34 percent (2006). The fifth and bottom line in the figure presents the data for widowed people, with data points of 29 percent (1991), 27 percent (1996), 25 percent (2001), and 26 percent (2006).

The four periods of census data were also examined to determine how the presence of children was related to mobility. While the single category includes some never married with children, this group was omitted from these analyses. The percentage of the population with no children who moved in the previous five years by marital status is presented in Figure 4.2. While this analysis is somewhat peripheral to parental relocation, it does provide an interesting comparison to cases where children are present. As with the overall mobility trends, mobility in all marital status groups without children decreased over time. Across all time periods, separated and divorced people without children are considerably more likely to have moved than married or widowed people without children. For example, in 2006, 59 percent of separated and 44 percent of divorced individuals had moved within the past five years compared to 36 percent and 25 percent of married and widowed people respectively.

Figure 4.2 Percentage of population with no children who moved by marital status and census yeara

Figure 4.2 Percentage of population with no children who moved by marital status and census year

Figure 4.2 - Text equivalent

Figure 4.2 is a line graph that presents the percentage of the population with no children who moved at least once at some time within the previous five years by marital status and census year, according to Statistics Canada 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 Census data. The census years 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 are shown on the x axis, and the percentage of the population who moved is shown on the y axis (on a scale of 0 to 80). Four categories of marital status are plotted on the line graph: separated; divorced; married; and widowed. With the exception of those who were legally married and not separated, all marital status categories include those in common-law relationships. The single marital status category includes children, therefore it was omitted from this figure. As with the overall mobility trends, mobility in all marital status groups without children decreased over time. Across all time periods, separated and divorced people without children are considerably more likely to have moved than married or widowed people without children.

The top line in the figure presents the data for separated individuals, with data points of 69 percent (1991), 67 percent (1996), 63 percent (2001), and 59 percent (2006). The second from the top line presents the data for divorced individuals, with data points of 61 percent (1991), 57 percent (1996), 50 percent (2001), and 44 percent (2006). The third line from the top presents the data for married individuals, with data points of 46 percent (1991), 40 percent (1996), 37 percent (2001), and 36 percent (2006). The fourth and bottom line in the figure presents the data for widowed people, with data points of 27 percent (1991), 25 percent (1996), 24 percent (2001), and 25 percent (2006).

Figure 4.3 indicates the percentage of the population with children aged 5-18 who moved within the previous five years. Again, overall mobility decreased over time across all marital statuses. As was found for those with no minor children, separated and divorced people with children were more likely to have moved than either married or widowed people with children. In 2006, 59 percent of separated and 53 percent of divorced people with children moved, compared to 38 percent of the married with children and 41 percent of widowed people with children. Interestingly, widowed parents with children were also more likely to have moved than were married couples with children. It is probable that widowed people with children under the age of 18 represent a younger group than widowed people with adult children or no children.

Figure 4.3 Percentage of population with children aged 5-18 who moved by marital status and census year[a]

Figure 4.3 Percentage of population with children aged 5-18 who moved by marital status and census year

Figure 4.3 - Text equivalent

Figure 4.3 is a line graph that presents the percentage of the population with children aged 5-18 who moved at least once at some time within the previous five years by marital status and census year, according to Statistics Canada 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 Census data. The census years 1991, 1996, 2001 and 2006 are shown on the x axis, and the percentage of the population who moved is shown on the y axis (on a scale of 0 to 80). Four categories of marital status are plotted on the line graph: separated; divorced; married; and widowed. With the exception of those who were legally married and not separated, all marital status categories include those in common-law relationships. The single marital status category includes children, therefore it was omitted from this figure. Again, overall mobility decreased over time across all marital statuses. As was found for those with no minor children, separated and divorced people with children were more likely to have moved than either married or widowed people with children.

The top line in the figure presents the data for separated individuals, with data points of 67 percent (1991), 66 percent (1996), 63 percent (2001), and 59 percent (2006). The second from the top line presents the data for divorced individuals, with data points of 66 percent (1991), 63 percent (1996), 57 percent (2001), and 53 percent (2006). The third line from the top presents the data for widowed individuals, with data points of 47 percent (1991), 45 percent (1996), 41 percent (2001), and 41 percent (2006). The fourth and bottom line in the figure presents the data for married individuals, with data points of 42 percent (1991), 37 percent (1996), 37 percent (2001), and 38 percent (2006).

4.1.2 Current profile

This section presents data from the 2001 and 2006 census periods, for which separate data for individuals living in common-law relationships could be determined. Unfortunately, data were not available on the presence or absence of children, nor were data available on common-law status prior to 2001. According to the 2006 census data, 41 percent of Canadians moved at least once in the previous five years (see Table 4.1a/b). This is similar to the 2001 data, which indicated that 42 percent of Canadians moved in the previous five years. In contrast, 48 percent of separated and divorced individuals had moved within the past five years in 2006, and 53 percent of separated and divorced individuals had moved within the past five years in 2001.

Table 4.1a Mobility status five years ago by legal marital status for 2001 censusTable note a
Mobility Status 5 Years Ago Legal Marital Status
SingleTable note b Common-law Legally Married Separated Divorced Widowed TotalTable note c
Non-movers 5,736,815 805,480 7,802,165 241,090 645,030 991,685 16,222,260
Movers 4,731,095 1,514,975 4,154,350 357,670 632,220 320,020 11,710,330
Same Municipality 2,563,520 788,815 2,105,125 216,610 388,640 188,885 6,251,595
Same Province 1,380,400 584,700 1,233,895 100,935 183,580 93,595 3,577,105
Different Province 388,195 114,320 320,665 23,900 39,690 18,895 905,670
Different Country 398,975 27,135 494,675 16,220 20,310 18,645 975,960
Total[c] 10,467,910 2,320,450 11,956,515 598,760 1,277,245 1,311,705 27,932,585

Source of data: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census

Table note a

Five-year mobility data include Canadian residents aged five and older.

Return to table note a referrer

Table note b

Single refers to never married individuals including children aged five and older.

Return to table note b referrer

Table note c

Minor differences in sums of categories existed in original data.

Return to table note c referrer

Table 4.1b Mobility status five years ago by legal marital status for 2006 censusTable note d
Mobility Status 5 Years Ago Legal Marital Status
SingleTable note e Common-law Legally Married Separated Divorced Widowed TotalTable note f
Non-movers 6,095,365 1,097,840 8,152,025 280,195 801,560 1,030,175 17,457,170
Movers 4,820,640 1,661,155 4,260,555 355,565 639,455 349,940 12,087,315
Same Municipality 2,679,930 883,070 2,127,960 215,870 391,620 209,450 6,507,905
Same Province 1,326,420 609,025 1,247,745 97,460 182,405 103,730 3,566,790
Different Province 353,145 121,675 297,825 21,630 39,545 18,750 852,580
Different Country 461,135 47,380 587,025 20,600 25,885 18,010 1,160,035
Total[f] 10,916,005 2,758,995 12,412,585 635,765 1,441,015 1,380,115 29,544,485

Source of data: Statistics Canada, 2006 Census

Table note d

Five-year mobility data include Canadian residents aged five and older.

Return to table note d referrer

Table note e

Single refers to never married individuals including children aged five and older.

Return to table note e referrer

Table note f

Minor differences in sums of categories existed in original data.

Return to table note f referrer

Figure 4.4 presents the percentage of the population who moved within the past five years by marital status for 2001 and 2006. In general, mobility rates have decreased over time for all categories of marital status except widowed, which increased from 24 percent in 2001 to 25 percent in 2006. The most mobile group was common-law families, with mobility rates of 65 percent in 2001 and 60 percent in 2006. Separated individuals had the second highest mobility rates (60 percent in 2001 and 56 percent in 2006), followed by divorced people (50 percent in 2001 and 44 percent in 2006). It may be that separated people experienced their relationship breakdown more recently than divorced people, and thus are more likely to have moved within the past five years.

Figure 4.4 Percentage of population who moved within five years by legal marital status

Figure 4.4 Percentage of population who moved within five years by legal marital status

Figure 4.4 - Text equivalent

Figure 4.4 is a bar graph that presents the percentage of the population who moved within the past five years by marital status for the 2001 and 2006 Census, according to Statistics Canada 2001and 2006 Census data. Six categories of marital status are plotted on the axis, as well as a population total: single; common-law; legally married; separated; divorced; and widowed. The percentage of the population who moved is shown on the y axis (on a scale of 0 to 70). The two census years are presented in bars side-by-side for each category of marital status. In general, mobility rates have decreased over time for all categories of marital status except widowed.

The first set of bars present data for single people, with data points of 45 percent (2001) and 44 percent (2006). The second set of bars present data for individuals living common-law, with data points of 65 percent (2001) and 60 percent (2006). The third set of bars present data for legally married individuals, with data points of 35 percent (2001) and 34 percent (2006). The fourth set of bars present data for separated people, with data points of 60 percent (2001) and 56 percent (2006). The fifth set of bars present data for divorced individuals, with data points of 50 percent (2001) and 44 percent (2006). The sixth set of bars present data for widowed people, with data points of 24 percent (2001) and 25 percent (2006). The final set of bars present data for the total population, with data points of 42 percent (2001) and 41 percent (2006).

When looking at mobility rates by gender and marital status, Figure 4.5 shows that in all cases, females are slightly more likely to have moved within the previous five years than males. This pattern holds for both the 2001 and 2006 census years. For example, when looking at separated and divorced individuals, in 2001, 53 percent of females had moved in the past five years compared to 52 percent of males. Similarly, in 2006, 48 percent of females had moved in the past five years compared to 47 percent of males. While the gender difference is small, it is consistent. It may be related to economic circumstances, but we do not have the data to determine this. In line with the overall mobility findings, mobility of both male and female separated and divorced people was down in 2006.

Figure 4.5 Percentage of population who moved within five years by gender and legal marital status

Figure 4.5 Percentage of population who moved within five years by gender and legal marital status

Figure 4.5 - Text equivalent

Figure 4.5 is a bar graph that presents the percentage of the population who moved within the past five years by gender and marital status for the 2001 and 2006 Census, according to Statistics Canada 2001and 2006 Census data. The bar graph is split in two, with the left side presenting 2001 Census data and right side presenting 2006 Census data. For each census year, six categories of marital status are plotted on the axis, as well as a population total: single; common-law; legally married; separated; divorced; and widowed. The percentage of the population who moved is shown on the y axis (on a scale of 0 to 70). Data for males and females are presented in bars side-by-side for each category of marital status. In almost all cases, females are slightly more likely to have moved within the previous five years than males. This pattern holds for both the 2001 and 2006 census years.

The first seven sets of bars present 2001 Census data. The first set of bars present data for single people, with data points of 45 percent (male) and 46 percent (female). The second set of bars presents data for individuals living common-law, with data points of 64 percent (male) and 66 percent (female). The third set of bars presents data for legally married individuals, with data points of 35 percent (male) and 35 percent (female). The fourth set of bars presents data for separated people, with data points of 59 percent (male) and 60 percent (female). The fifth set of bars presents data for divorced individuals, with data points of 49 percent (male) and 50 percent (female). The sixth set of bars presents data for widowed people, with data points of 23 percent (male) and 25 percent (female). The final set of bars presents data for the total 2001 Census population, with data points of 42 percent (male) and 42 percent (female).

The second seven sets of bars present 2006 Census data. The first set of bars presents data for single people, with data points of 43 percent (male) and 45 percent (female). The second set of bars presents data for individuals living common-law, with data points of 59 percent (male) and 61 percent (female). The third set of bars presents data for legally married individuals, with data points of 34 percent (male) and 35 percent (female). The fourth set of bars presents data for separated people, with data points of 55 percent (male) and 57 percent (female). The fifth set of bars presents data for divorced individuals, with data points of 44 percent (male) and 45 percent (female). The sixth set of bars presents data for widowed people, with data points of 24 percent (male) and 26 percent (female). The final set of bars presents data for the total 2006 Census population, with data points of 41 percent (male) and 41 percent (female).

Table 4.1a/b also presents data on the extent of the move by marital status. For both census years and across all marital status categories, individuals who move are most likely to stay within the same municipality. For example, in 2006, of the married people who moved within the past five years, 50 percent stayed within the same municipality, 29 percent moved to a different municipality but stayed in the same province, 7 percent moved to a different province, and 14 percent moved from a different country. Of the separated and divorced people who moved within the past five years in 2006, 61 percent stayed within the same municipality, 28 percent moved to a different municipality but stayed in the same province, 6 percent moved to a different province, and 5 percent moved from a different country. It is interesting to note that separated and divorced people who move are considerably more likely to stay within the same municipality than are married people.

To simplify the analyses presented above, the census data were further analyzed by comparing moves within the same municipality to moves outside the municipality (this includes moves outside the municipality but in the same province, moves to a different province, and moves to Canada from another country). As indicated in Figure 4.6, the overall patterns are almost identical from 2001 to 2006. Separated, divorced and widowed people who moved were substantially more likely to move within their municipality than outside it. For example, in 2006, 61 percent of divorced people who moved did so within their municipality compared to 39 percent who moved outside their municipality. In contrast, in 2006, legally married people who moved were equally likely to move within their municipality (50 percent) as outside their municipality (50 percent).

Figure 4.6 Percentage of population who moved within five years by location of move and legal marital status

Figure 4.6 Percentage of population who moved within five years by location of move and legal marital status

Figure 4.6 - Text equivalent

Figure 4.6 is a bar graph that presents the percentage of the population who moved within the past five years by location of move and marital status for the 2001 and 2006 Census, according to Statistics Canada 2001and 2006 Census data. The bar graph is split in two, with the left side presenting 2001 Census data and right side presenting 2006 Census data. For each census year, six categories of marital status are plotted on the x axis, as well as a population total: single; common-law; legally married; separated; divorced; and widowed. The percentage of the population who moved is shown on the y axis (on a scale of 0 to 70). Data for location of move (either within same municipality or outside municipality) are presented in bars side-by-side for each category of marital status. The overall patterns are almost identical from 2001 to 2006. Separated, divorced and widowed people who moved were substantially more likely to move within their municipality than outside it.

The first seven sets of bars present 2001 Census data. The first set of bars presents data for single people, with data points of 54 percent (within same municipality) and 46 percent (outside municipality). The second set of bars presents data for individuals living common-law, with data points of 52 percent (within same municipality) and 48 percent (outside municipality). The third set of bars presents data for legally married individuals, with data points of 51 percent (within same municipality) and 49 percent (outside municipality). The fourth set of bars presents data for separated people, with data points of 61 percent (within same municipality) and 39 percent (outside municipality). The fifth set of bars presents data for divorced individuals, with data points of 62 percent (within same municipality) and 39 percent (outside municipality). The sixth set of bars presents data for widowed people, with data points of 59 percent (within same municipality) and 41 percent (outside municipality). The final set of bars presents data for the total 2001 Census population, with data points of 53 percent (within same municipality) and 47 percent (outside municipality).

The second seven sets of bars present 2006 Census data. The first set of bars presents data for single people, with data points of 56 percent (within same municipality) and 44 percent (outside municipality). The second set of bars presents data for individuals living common-law, with data points of 53 percent (within same municipality) and 47 percent (outside municipality). The third set of bars presents data for legally married individuals, with data points of 50 percent (within same municipality) and 50 percent (outside municipality). The fourth set of bars presents data for separated people, with data points of 61 percent (within same municipality) and 39 percent (outside municipality). The fifth set of bars presents data for divorced individuals, with data points of 61 percent (within same municipality) and 39 percent (outside municipality). The sixth set of bars presents data for widowed people, with data points of 60 percent (within same municipality) and 40 percent (outside municipality). The final set of bars presents data for the total 2006 Census population, with data points of 54 percent (within same municipality) and 46 percent (outside municipality).

4.2 General Social Survey data

The General Social Survey (GSS) is designed to gather data on social trends in order to monitor changes in the living conditions and well being of Canadians over time. The target population for the GSS is all persons 15 years of age and older in Canada, excluding residents of the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, and full-time residents of institutions. Every five years key topics are revisited. For key data on families, including post-separation and divorce arrangements for children, the relevant cycles are Cycle 5 (1990), Cycle 10 (1995), Cycle 15 (2001), Cycle 20 (2006) and the upcoming Cycle 25 (2011). While the family cycles of the GSS do not collect data directly on the issue of post-separation/divorce mobility, there is some limited information available on the distance a child lives from a non-residential parent.

In 2001, residential parents were asked how far away the other parent lived from the child/children (see Figure 4.7). Over two-fifths of non-residential parents (42 percent) lived within 10 km of their children, and an additional 23 percent lived within 50 km. Almost three-quarters of non-residential parents lived within 100 km of their children, or one hour by car, which is a reasonable distance to allow frequent visitation (for those who can afford a car). However, almost one-fifth of non-residential parents (18 percent) had a child living 1000 km away or further, including those with children outside Canada or the United States.

Figure 4.7 Distance non-residential parent lived from child in 2001, according to residential parent

Figure 4.7 Distance non-residential parent lived from child in 2001, according to residential parent

Figure 4.7 - Text equivalent

Using data from Statistics Canada’s 2001 General Social Survey, Figure 4.7 is a bar graph that presents the distance that a non-residential parent lived from the child, according to the residential parent. Eight categories of distance are plotted on the x axis: 10 km; 50 km; 100 km; 200 km; 400 km; 1000 km; >1000 km; and outside Canada/US. The percentage of the sample responding to each category is shown on the axis (on a scale of 0 to 60).

The first bar indicates that 42 percent of non-residential parents lived within 10 km of their children, and the second bar indicates that an additional 23 percent lived within 50 km. The data points for the remaining bars are: 8 percent (100 km); 5 percent (200 km); 5 percent (400 km); 5 percent (1000 km); 10 percent (>1000 km), and 4 percent (outside Canada/US).

In 2006, the question regarding distance from birth parent was changed in the GSS. Respondents who did not live with their children were asked: How far away does this child/do these children live from your residence? Figure 4.8 presents the distance the child lived from the non-residential parent in 2006. Over one-half of non-residential parents reported that their child lived within 10 km (55 percent), and another quarter (24 percent) said their child lived within 50 km. Only 8 percent of non-residential parents reported that their child lived 1000 km away or further, including those outside Canada or the United States. While the results are similar, direct comparisons to the 2001 data cannot be made because the question was asked differently in 2006 (i.e., to the non-residential parent.)

Figure 4.8 Distance child lived from non-residential parent in 2006, according to non-residential parent

Figure 4.8 Distance child lived from non-residential parent in 2006, according to non-residential parent

Figure 4.8 - Text equivalent

In 2006, the question regarding distance from birth parent was changed in the General Social Survey. Respondents who did not live with their children were asked: How far away does this child/do these children live from your residence? Figure 4.8 is a bar graph that presents the distance the child lived from the non-residential parent in 2006. Eight categories of distance are plotted on the axis: 10 km; 50 km; 100 km; 200 km; 400 km; 1000 km; >1000 km; and outside Canada/US. The percentage of the sample responding to each category is shown on the axis (on a scale of 0 to 60).

The first bar in indicates that 55 percent of non-residential parents reported that their child lived within 10 km, and the second bar indicates that another 24 percent said their child lived within 50 km. The data points for the remaining bars are: 6 percent (100 km); 3 percent (200 km); 4 percent (400 km); 3 percent (1000 km); 4 percent (>1000 km), and 1 percent (outside Canada/US).

4.3 Survey of professionals

In 2004 and 2006, CRILF conducted consultations on family law issues at the National Family Law Programs of the Federation of Law Societies of Canada (Paetsch et al., 2006). The purpose of the consultations was threefold:

  1. to obtain information on the characteristics of cases handled by family law lawyers;
  2. to obtain feedback from both lawyers and judges concerning family law issues based on their knowledge and experience; and
  3. to examine trends in family law cases and practice over a two-year period from 2004 to 2006.

One component of the project was a survey that was distributed to conference participants and included questions on parental relocation. Specifically, the survey asked professionals the extent to which parental relocation was an issue in their caseload, the reasons parents gave for requesting relocation, and the circumstances regarding the request (i.e., whether it was the custodial or access parent wanting to move, and the distances involved).

It should be noted that the respondents to the survey do not represent a random sample of individuals in the Canadian legal community. Attendees at the Federation of Law Societies of Canada's National Family Law Program tend to be lawyers and judges who are among the most engaged in and knowledgeable of family law. Therefore, the responses obtained cannot be generalized to all Canadian legal professionals. Further, respondents were asked about their perceptions of their caseload, rather than being requested to provide actual numbers. In addition, the sample was not geographically representative of lawyers and judges across Canada.

The survey asked respondents in what proportion of their cases with children involved was parental relocation (mobility) an issue. While the range was wide (0 to 75 percent in 2006 and 0 to 65 percent in 2004), the average was not high (13 percent in 2006 and 12 percent in 2004). In cases where parental relocation was an issue, respondents were asked what reasons were given for the move, and how frequently they occurred. As indicated in Table 4.2a/b, the most common reasons in both surveys was to be with a new partner, which 69 percent of the respondents in the 2006 survey reported occurred often or almost always (68 percent in 2004), an employment opportunity (73 percent in 2006 and 67 percent in 2004), or to be closer to family/friends (63 percent in 2006 and 62 percent in 2004).

Table 4.2a Respondents' perceptions of how often specific reasons are given in parental relocation cases, 2006
Reason Rarely Occasionally Often Almost always Missing
n % n % n % n % n %
Employment opportunity 2 1.2 26 15.9 91 55.5 28 17.1 17 10.4
Educational opportunity 38 23.2 63 38.4 37 22.6 2 1.2 24 14.6
To be closer to family/friends 8 4.9 35 21.3 86 52.4 18 11.0 17 10.4
To be with new partner 7 4.3 25 15.2 95 57.9 18 11.0 19 11.6
No particular reason 84 51.2 15 9.1 6 3.7 0 0.0 59 36.0

Source of data: Survey on the Practice of Family Law in Canada, 2006 and 2004 (Paetsch et al., 2006).

2006 Total N=164; 2004 Total N=117.

Table 4.2b Respondents' perceptions of how often specific reasons are given in parental relocation cases, 2004
Reason Rarely Occasionally Often Almost always Missing
n % n % n % n % n %
Employment opportunity 7 6.0 23 19.7 57 48.7 21 17.9 9 7.7
Educational opportunity 25 21.4 43 36.8 23 19.7 1 0.9 25 21.4
To be closer to family/friends 2 1.7 28 23.9 60 51.3 13 11.1 14 12.0
To be with new partner 7 6.0 20 17.1 67 57.3 13 11.1 10 8.5
No particular reason 38 32.5 19 16.2 7 6.0 0 0.0 53 45.0

Source of data: Survey on the Practice of Family Law in Canada, 2006 and 2004 (Paetsch et al., 2006).

2006 Total N=164; 2004 Total N=117.

Respondents were then asked what the circumstances were in cases of parental relocation, and how frequently they occurred (see Table 4.3a/b). The most common circumstances cited in both the 2006 and 2004 surveys were when the custodial parent wished to move within the province/territory (in the 2006 survey, 37 percent said this occurred often, and 42 percent said it occurred occasionally), and when the custodial parent wished to move to a different province/territory (38 percent said this occurred often, and 38 percent said it occurred occasionally). The respondents' parental relocation cases rarely involved custodial parents wishing to move within the city (54 percent in 2006) or outside the country (60 percent). Not surprisingly, parental relocation was rarely an issue when the access parent wished to move.

Table 4.3a Respondents' perceptions of what the circumstances are in parental relocation cases and how frequently it occurs, 2006
Circumstance Rarely Occasionally Often Almost always Missing
n % n % n % n % n %
Custodial parent wishes to move within the city 88 53.7 37 22.6 18 11.0 0 0.0 21 12.8
Custodial parent wishes to move within the province/territory 12 7.3 68 41.5 61 37.2 8 4.9 15 9.1
Custodial parent wishes to move to a different province/territory 10 6.1 63 38.4 63 38.4 14 8.5 14 8.5
Custodial parent wishes to move outside the country 98 59.8 34 20.7 10 6.1 7 4.3 15 9.1
Access parent wishes to move within the city 115 70.1 12 7.3 15 9.1 0 0.0 22 13.4
Access parent wishes to move within the province/territory 101 61.6 36 22.0 7 4.3 0 0.0 20 12.2
Access parent wishes to move to a different province/territory 92 56.1 41 25.0 12 7.3 0 0.0 19 11.6
Access parent wishes to move outside the country 127 77.4 15 9.1 2 1.2 1 0.6 19 11.6

Source of data: Survey on the Practice of Family Law in Canada, 2006 and 2004 (Paetsch et al., 2006).

2006 Total N=164; 2004 Total N=117.

Table 4.3b Respondents' perceptions of what the circumstances are in parental relocation cases and how frequently it occurs, 2004
Circumstance Rarely Occasionally Often Almost always Missing
n % n % n % n % n %
Custodial parent wishes to move within the city 65 55.6 21 17.9 17 14.5 2 1.7 12 10.3
Custodial parent wishes to move within the province/territory 8 6.8 52 44.4 42 35.9 7 6.0 8 6.8
Custodial parent wishes to move to a different province/territory 7 6.0 44 37.6 42 35.9 16 13.7 8 6.8
Custodial parent wishes to move outside the country 71 60.7 24 20.5 6 5.1 7 6.0 9 7.7
Access parent wishes to move within the city 79 67.5 12 10.3 10 8.5 0 0.0 16 13.7
Access parent wishes to move within the province/territory 54 46.2 32 27.4 16 13.7 0 0.0 15 12.8
Access parent wishes to move to a different province/territory 56 47.9 34 29.1 10 8.5 1 0.9 16 13.7
Access parent wishes to move outside the country 84 71.8 14 12.0 1 0.9 1 0.9 17 1.5

Source of data: Survey on the Practice of Family Law in Canada, 2006 and 2004 (Paetsch et al., 2006).

2006 Total N=164; 2004 Total N=117.

4.4 Summary

This chapter examined the available Canadian data from large-scale population surveys on parental relocation following separation or divorce. Unfortunately, neither the Canadian census nor the General Social Survey asked questions directly related to this issue. The analyses were guided by questions contained in the RFP issued by Justice Canada, and are summarized below by question.

How many people relocate (as a population as a whole and separated/divorced parents)?

  • According to the 2006 census:
    • 41 percent of the population moved within the previous five years; and
    • 48 percent of separated or divorced individuals moved within the previous five years.
  • Census data indicated that mobility in general decreased from 1991 to 2006 (from 47 percent to 41 percent).
  • According to a CRILF survey of family lawyers, respondents reported that parental relocation was an issue in an average of 13 percent of their cases in 2006, but the range of responses was wide, from 0 to 75 percent.

How many people make frequent moves?

  • Data were not available from the large-scale Canadian surveys on the frequency of moves.

How far do they go (i.e., within the same city, within the province, outside the province, outside the country)?

  • According to the 2006 census:
    • in the general population, 54 percent of the movers stayed within the same municipality, 30 percent moved to a different municipality but stayed in the same province, 7 percent moved to a different province, and 10 percent moved to Canada from another country;
    • of the separated or divorced movers, 61 percent stayed within the same municipality, 28 percent moved to a different municipality but stayed in the same province, 6 percent moved to a different province, and 5 percent moved to Canada from another country;
    • separated and divorced people who moved were considerably more likely to stay within the same municipality than were married people; and
    • separated, divorced and widowed people who moved were substantially more likely to move within their municipality than outside it. In contrast, legally married people who moved were equally likely to move within their municipality as outside their municipality.
  • According to the General Social Survey data, in 2001, over two-fifths of non-residential parents lived within 10 km of their children. Almost three-quarters of non-residential parents lived within 100 km of their children, or one hour by car, which is a reasonable distance to allow frequent visitation. Almost one-fifth of non-residential parents had a child living more than 1000 km away or more, including those outside Canada or the United States.
  • According to the General Social Survey data, in 2006, over one-half of non-residential parents reported that their child lived within 10 km, and another quarter said their child lived within 50 km. Only 8 percent of non-residential parents reported that their child lived 1000 km away or more, or outside Canada or the United States.

Who is more likely to move?

  • According to the census data:
    • mobility was higher for separated and divorced individuals than for married people, and separated individuals had higher mobility rates than divorced people;
    • mobility rates were highest for people in common-law relationships and lowest for widowed individuals; and
    • across all marital status categories and both 2001 and 2006 census years, females were slightly more likely to have moved in the past five years than males.

Who is more likely to move more frequently (i.e., the factors associated with relocation in general, and for separated/divorced parents in particular)?

  • Data were not available from the large-scale Canadian surveys on the frequency of moves.

Why do people move (i.e., income-related, work-related, neighbourhood-related)?

  • According to the CRILF survey of family lawyers:
    • the most common reasons for post-separation relocation applications were to be with a new partner, for an employment opportunity, or to be closer to family/friends. The most common circumstances in parental relocation cases were when the custodial parent wished to move within the province/territory, and when the custodial parent wished to move to a different province/territory;
    • parental relocation cases involving custodial parents wishing to move within the city or outside the country occurred rarely; and
    • parental relocation was rarely an issue when the access parent wished to move.
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