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Divorce rates continue to decline in Canada, according to a new report released by Statistics Canada that tracked numbers for Ontario, Alberta, Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Nunavut, Yukon and the Northwest Territories.

The number of new divorce cases decreased by 8 per cent from 2006 to 2011, dropping steadily each year. Declines for the five-year period were highest in Nova Scotia (22 per cent) and most nominal in British Columbia (4 per cent).

Report author Mary Bess Kelly pointed to several factors: "The proportion of married couples has been steadily decreasing over the past 20 years while common-law unions are becoming more numerous," as are lone-parent families, which have proliferated since the mid-1960s.

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Despite the rosy divorce-rate declines, she points out that 53,804 new cases were initiated in the country from 2010 to 2011, making up the bulk of more than 59,000 cases before the civil courts during that period.

"Although the number of divorces has shown recent declines, in 2008 it was estimated that 41 per cent of marriages will end in divorce before the 30th year of marriage, an increase from 36 per cent in 1998," Ms. Kelly writes.

Call it the 30-year itch?

The author noted that Canada has seen only two major spikes in divorce rates since the inception of the Divorce Act in 1968: The first upsurge came in 1970 and the second in 1987, after the act was reformed – reducing the agonizingly lengthy separation period required to divorce from three years to one.

Have you noticed fewer of your married friends are divorcing? Do you think married couples are less inclined to split than common-law ones?

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