The Survey of Child Support Awards:
Analysis of Phase 2 Data Collected Through January 31, 2002

2003-FCY-4E

5.0 COMPARISON OF PROVINCIAL/TERRITORIAL DATA

Several analyses were conducted on selected variables in order to examine differences in child support awards and related issues among the provinces and territories participating in this project. As discussed in Appendix A, the procedures used in the processing of divorce cases and child support awards differ considerably across jurisdictions, and these differences no doubt contribute to the patterns of findings observed and limit the extent to which they should be directly compared. In addition, it should be noted that the number of cases in the database from the various jurisdictions varies widely, which also limits direct comparisons between them.

5.1 Type of Divorce Order

Table 5.1 presents the types of divorce orders that were captured from each participating jurisdiction. In the majority of jurisdictions, the most common type of divorce order included a child support order. This ranged from a high of 95.5 percent of all divorce orders in New Brunswick and 88.2 percent in Manitoba to 38.5 percent of all divorce orders in British Columbia and 31.3 percent in the Northwest Territories. Ontario was the most striking exception to this pattern, where 78 percent of all divorce orders were silent on child support. This is due to the procedures followed in Ontario whereby child support orders are contained in a document other than the divorce order, meaning the divorce order itself does not include a child support order. However, for many Ontario cases, information on child support was contained in supporting documents such as separation agreements and affidavits that were available to data-capture clerks and thus are included in the database.

In most jurisdictions, interim child support orders were fairly uncommon with the exception of the Northwest Territories (43.5 percent of the total divorce orders), Saskatchewan (41.7 percent), British Columbia (30.8 percent), and the Yukon (30.3 percent). In all other jurisdictions the proportion of interim child support orders contained in the total divorce orders was less than 17 percent.

5.2 Disposition of Orders

Table 5.2 presents the disposition all orders by province/territory. In all jurisdictions, the majority of orders were resolved by consent or were uncontested. This ranged from a high of 96.3 percent in Ontario and 93 percent in Manitoba to 63.4 percent in British Columbia and 61.7 percent in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan reported the highest percentage of contested cases (32.6 percent), followed by Newfoundland (23.4 percent) and the Northwest Territories (21.9 percent). The proportion of contested cases was less than 20 percent in all other jurisdictions. British Columbia (18.1 percent) and New Brunswick (11.6 percent) had the highest proportion of cases in which whether they were contested or proceeded by consent/uncontested was unknown. In all jurisdictions except New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories, variations were more likely to be contested than were divorces.

Table 5.1 Type of Divorce Order by Province/Territory

Table 5.2 Disposition of All Orders by Province/Territory
Disposition
Province/Territory Consent/
uncontested
Contested Unknown Missing
n % n % n % n %
Newfound-land
(n=342)
250 73.1 80 23.4 2 0.6 10 2.9
Prince Edward Island
(n=532)
437 82.1 73 13.7 12 2.3 10 1.9
Nova Scotia
(n=2,156)
1,779 82.5 275 12.8 77 3.6 25 1.2
New Brunswick
(n=1,868)
1,420 76.0 215 11.5 217 11.6 16 0.9
Ontario
(n=10,346)
9,964 96.3 292 2.8 76 0.7 14 0.1
Manitoba
(n=2,402)
2,234 93.0 84 3.5 56 2.3 28 1.2
Sask.
(n=1,406)
868 61.7 458 32.6 33 2.3 47 3.3
Alberta
(n=12,406)
10,827 87.3 1,466 11.8 39 0.3 74 0.6
British Columbia
(n=1,427)
905 63.4 247 17.3 259 18.1 16 1.1
Yukon
(n=209)
162 77.5 40 19.1 6 2.9 1 0.5
Northwest Territories
(n=146)
100 68.5 32 21.9 6 4.1 8 5.5
All sites (n=33,240) 28,946 87.1 3,262 9.8 783 2.4 249 0.7

Source of data: Survey of Child Support Awards; January 31, 2002 version.

5.3 Legal Representation

Legal representation for the mother, father or a government agency was analyzed by province/territory, and the results are presented in Table 5.3. The proportion of cases with legal representation for the mother was highest in Manitoba (92 percent) and Saskatchewan (88.6 percent), and was lowest in Ontario (56 percent) and Newfoundland (51.2 percent). Overall, the proportion of cases with legal representation for the father was lower than for the mother. Legal representation for the father was highest in the Northwest Territories (74.7 percent) and Manitoba (74.4 percent), and lowest in Prince Edward Island (40.4 percent) and Newfoundland (37.4 percent). Legal representation for a government agency, which excludes legal aid services, was infrequent in all jurisdictions, ranging from 7.6 percent of cases in British Columbia to 0.1 percent of cases in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan.

Table 5.3 Legal Representation by Province/Territory
Legal representation for:
Province/
Territory
Mother Father Govern-ment
agency
n % n % n %
Newfound-
land
(n=342)
175 51.2 128 37.4 3 0.9
Prince
Edward
Island (n=532)
334 62.8 215 40.4 20 3.8
Nova
Scotia
(n=2,156)
1,525 70.7 1,279 59.3 2 0.1
New
Brunswick
(n=1,868)
1,304 69.8 1,136 60.8 8 0.4
Ontario
(n=10,346)
5,794 56.0 4,938 47.7 26 0.3
Manitoba
(n=2,402)
2,211 92.0 1,788 74.4 39 1.6
Sask.
(n=1,406)
1,246 88.6 1,029 73.2 1 0.1
Alberta
(n=12,406)
10,741 86.6 8,910 71.8 107 0.9
British
Columbia
(n=1,427)
1,165 81.6 933 65.4 108 7.6
Yukon
(n=209)
155 74.2 105 50.2 5 2.4
Northwest
Territories
(n=146)
126 86.3 109 74.7 6 4.1
All sites
(n=33,240)
24,776 74.5 20,570 61.9 325 1.0

Source of data: Survey of Child Support Awards; January 31, 2002 version.

5.4 Issues Dealt within Divorce Orders

Table 5.4 presents a breakdown of the issues dealt with in divorce orders by jurisdiction. Due to the fact that most issues in Ontario divorces are dealt with in separate documents, the proportion of divorce orders in Ontario that deal with each issue is considerably lower than in other provinces/territories. Thus, Ontario is not included in the following discussion.

A substantial majority of divorce orders in most locations deal with child support. This ranges from a high of 99.7 percent in Manitoba and 97.1 percent in Nova Scotia to a low of 88.2 percent in Prince Edward Island and 68.1 percent in British Columbia. The majority of orders in most jurisdictions also deal with custody and access issues. Custody issues were dealt with in 97.8 percent of divorce issues in New Brunswick and 94.3 percent of orders in Nova Scotia. New Brunswick and Nova Scotia also had the highest proportions of orders dealing with access (93.3 percent and 92.9 percent, respectively). Only 50.8 percent of cases in Newfoundland dealt with custody, and only 5.1 percent with access.

Table 5.4 Issues Dealt Within Divorce Orders by Province/Territory

The proportion of cases that dealt with spousal support varied considerably across jurisdictions, ranging from 42.2 percent in Alberta and 38.6 percent in Nova Scotia to 5.2 percent in the Northwest Territories and 3.4 percent in Newfoundland. Child support award termination provisions were most frequently included in divorce orders in Prince Edward Island (26.6 percent) and Alberta (14.9 percent). Other issues, such as arrears, review clauses, and cost of living clauses, were relatively infrequently dealt with in divorce orders across most jurisdictions.

5.5 Type of Custody Arrangements

A breakdown of type of custody arrangement by province/territory is presented in Table 5.5. The most common type of custody awarded across all jurisdictions was sole custody to the mother. The proportion of cases reporting this type of custody ranged from 80.4 percent in Newfoundland and 77.9 percent in Manitoba to 71.2 percent in New Brunswick and the Northwest Territories and 70.3 percent in the Yukon. Sole custody awarded to the father varied from 10 percent in New Brunswick and 9.6 percent in the Yukon to 5.7 percent in Saskatchewan and 2.9 percent in Newfoundland. The proportion of cases reporting shared custody arrangements was highest in the Yukon (10.5 percent) and Prince Edward Island (8.6 percent), and lowest in Nova Scotia (3.1 percent) and Manitoba (1.8 percent). Split custody was reported relatively infrequently, and ranged from 6.7 percent of cases in New Brunswick to 3.4 percent of cases in British Columbia.

5.6 Child Support Award Amounts

The median monthly child support award amount and median annual paying parent income for each jurisdiction are presented in Table 5.6. As would be expected under the Guidelines, there was a clear pattern of increasing median child support awards as median paying parent incomes increased. The highest reported incomes are in the Northwest Territories ($41,536) and Alberta ($39,000), while the lowest incomes were found in Newfoundland ($28,200) and Prince Edward Island ($27,012). Median monthly child support amounts ranged from $500 in Alberta and $495 in the Yukon to $301 in Prince Edward Island and $300 in Newfoundland.

5.7 Award and Amount of Special or Extraordinary Expenses

Table 5.7 presents the number and proportion of cases reported in which special or extraordinary expenses were awarded by jurisdiction. The proportion varied quite widely across sites, and ranged from a high of 40 percent in Alberta and 30.4 percent in Ontario to 12.3 percent in the Northwest Territories and 11.4 percent in Newfoundland.

Table 5.8 presents the median monthly special expense amount awarded in each province/territory. These amounts ranged from a high of $184 in Ontario and $143 in Nova Scotia to $91 in Manitoba and $85 in Prince Edward Island.

Table 5.5 Type of Custody by Province/Territory

Table 5.6 Median Monthly Child Support Award Amount and Paying Parent Income by Province/Territory
  Median child support Median paying parent
Province/Territory amount income1
Newfoundland $300 (n=302) $28,200 (n=205)
Prince Edward Island $301 (n=392) $27,012 (n=272)
Nova Scotia $361 (n=1,773) $33,400 (n=1,804)
New Brunswick $330 (n=1,400) $31,176 (n=1,157)
Ontario $413 (n=6,992) $35,332 (n=6,219)
Manitoba $350 (n=2,317) $32,000 (n=2,244)
Saskatchewan $400 (n=1,189) $35,043 (n=1,097)
Alberta $500 (n=10,560) $39,000 (n=11,229)
British Columbia $439 (n=1,049) $38,600 (n=996)
Yukon $495 (n=156) $38,040 (n=169)
Northwest Territories $469 (n=109) $41,536 (n=97)
All sites $427 (n=26,239) $36,000 (n=25,489)

1 Includes all cases with paying parent income regardless of whether the case reported a monthly child support award amount. Source of data: Survey of Child Support Awards; January 31, 2002 version.

Table 5.7 Number and Proportion of Cases Having Special or Extraordinary Expenses Awarded by Province/Territory
Province/Territory n %
Newfoundland (n=342) 39 11.4
Prince Edward Island (n=532) 125 23.5
Nova Scotia (n=2,156) 434 20.1
New Brunswick (n=1,868) 438 23.4
Ontario (n=10,346) 3,144 30.4
Manitoba (n=2,402) 646 26.9
Saskatchewan (n=1,406) 387 27.5
Alberta (n=12,406) 4,962 40.0
British Columbia (n=1,427) 310 21.7
Yukon (n=209) 50 24.6
Northwest Territories (n=146) 18 12.3
All sites (n=33,240) 10,553 31.7

Source of data: Survey of Child Support Awards; January 31, 2002 version.

Table 5.8 Median Monthly Special or ExtraordinaryExpenses Awarded by Province/Territory
Province/Territory Median special expenses amount
Newfoundland $108 (n=13)
Prince Edward Island $85 (n=44)
Nova Scotia $143 (n=216)
New Brunswick $111 (n=183)
Ontario $184 (n=598)
Manitoba $91 (n=402)
Saskatchewan $105 (n=209)
Alberta $104 (n=3,106)
British Columbia $126 (n=173)
Yukon $125 (n=8)
Northwest Territories $100 (n=11)
All sites $113 (n=4,963)

Includes all cases with paying parent income regardless of whether the case reported a monthly child support award amount. Source of data: Survey of Child Support Awards; January 31, 2002 version.

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