Our recent media advisory has generated a lot of conversation about the family law situation in Canada. Here is some pertinent information provided by the Canadian Association for Equality Research Committee:

According to the National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY), 77.7% of sole custody orders were granted to the mother, 5.2% to the father. (The remaining 16% were granted to other family members.)

The same report noted that, “legal shared custody does not necessarily indicate that parents share their children’s physical custody… under one-quarter of children with shared custody as part of the court order lived part of the time with each parent. More than two-thirds lived exclusively with the mother at separation, and 11% lived exclusively with their father.”

That means that, combining sole and shared custody, the reality on the ground is that mothers have physical custody 88.0% of the time, whereas fathers have physical custody 6.4% of the time.

Reference: Canada: Department of Justice. Sharing Custody – When Parents Separate: Further Findings from the Natioanl Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (2004-FCY-6E). Updated: Dec 5, 2011.


As for support orders, according to the recent 2010/2011 Survey of Maintenance Enforcement Programs (SMEP), which studied 88,000 cases of support orders covering nine jurisdictions as of March 31, 2011, the support order payors were almost exclusively men (96%), while recipients were almost exclusively women (96%).

Reference: Statistics Canada. Interjurisdictional cases of spousal and child support, 2010/2011. Updated: March 28, 2012.


Canadian Children’s Rights Council – Conseil canadien des droits des enfants: Fatherlessness in Canada