June 2016
Research and Statistics Division

Mobility and Relocation in the Context of Family Law

This fact sheet is based predominantly on publicly available data from Statistics Canada’s 2006 Census of Population, 2011 National Household Survey and the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics’ Survey of Maintenance Enforcement Programs for 2012/13.

Separated/divorced Canadians, particularly those with children, are more mobile than married persons

Data from the 2006 census indicate that almost 40% of Canadians moved in the last five years, with 7% moving inter-jurisdictionally (from one province/territory to another). In 2011, the National Household Survey reported similar proportions; 38.6% of households had moved in the last five years with about 7% moving inter-jurisdictionally.Footnote 1

The proportion of separated/divorced persons who move is higher than that for married persons. According to the 2011 data, 44% versus 31.5% had moved in the last five years.Footnote 2 Families with children between ages 5 and 18 in the household were particularly likely to have moved.Footnote 3 These numbers do not include separated unmarried parents with children, or cases in which one parent moved out of Canada in that period.

Relocation is one of the most complex and difficult post-separation/divorce issues

One of the most significant issues families can face after separation/divorce is relocation. This issue is complex and difficult to resolve and often requires adjustments to parenting time.Footnote 4 This means that there may be significant implications for court time and resources. There can also be a significant impact on children’s lives and the post-divorce relationship between the parents.Footnote 5

Implication of higher mobility: Inter-jurisdictional support orders (ISOs)

ISOs are used when there is a support obligation between two parties who reside in different jurisdictions - either within Canada or internationally.Footnote 6 There were over 396,000 MEP-enrolled cases in Canada as of March 31st, 2013, the vast majority involving children.Footnote 7 In 2012/13 the percentage of MEP cases with an inter-jurisdictional component ranged from 2% in Quebec to 57% in Yukon, with a national average of 12%.Footnote 8 The total amount paid and received for incoming ISO cases in the 2012/2013 fiscal year was $50,400,000.Footnote 9

Compared to non-inter-jurisdictional cases, both domestic and international inter-jurisdictional cases are more likely to have a lower collection rate, be in arrears and be in non-complianceFootnote 10.