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

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
Province/Territory Type of Order
Interim child support order Divorce with child support order Divorce silent on child support Corollary relief Reserved Other
n % n % n % n % n % n %
Newfoundland (n=59) 7 11.9 44 74.6 3 5.1 0 0.0 0 0.0 5 8.5
Prince Edward Island (n=467) 9 1.9 396 84.8 53 11.3 0 0.0 0 0.0 9 1.9
Nova Scotia (n=1,545) 66 4.3 1,245 80.6 32 2.1 186 12.0 0 0.0 16 1.0
New Brunswick (n=1,322) 11 0.8 1,262 95.5 47 3.6 1 0.1 0 0.0 1 0.1
Ontario (n=9,887) 249 2.5 1,709 17.3 7,707 78.0 140 1.4 0 0.0 82 0.8
Manitoba (n=1,832) 194 10.6 1,615 88.2 7 0.4 3 0.2 0 0.0 13 0.7
Saskatchewan (n=716) 300 41.7 339 47.3 45 6.3 4 0.6 0 0.0 28 3.9
Alberta (n=10,045) 1 699 16.9 7,113 70.8 454 4.5 74 0.7 623 6.2 82 0.8
British Columbia (n=1,147) 353 30.8 442 38.5 248 21.6 41 3.6 0 0.0 63 5.5
Yukon (n=119) 36 30.3 1 0.8 2 1.7 73 61.3 0 0.0 7 5.9
Northwest Territories (n=115) 50 43.5 36 31.3 3 2.6 18 15.7 0 0.0 8 7.0
All sites (n=27,254) 2 974 10.9 14,202 52.1 8,601 31.6 540 2.0 623 2.3 314 1.2

1 713 cases were missing data on both type of divorce order and type of variation order.

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

Table 5.2 Disposition of All Orders by Province/Territory
Province/Territory Disposition
Consent/uncontested Contested Unknown Missing
n % n % n % n %
Newfoundland (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
Saskatchewan (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
Province/Territory Legal representation for:
Mother Father Government agency
n % n % n %
Newfoundland (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
Saskatchewan (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
Province/ Territory Issue
Child support Custody Access Spousal support Child Support award termination provision Arrears Review clause Cost of living clause Other
n % n % n % n % n % n % n % n % n %
Nfld. (n=59) 56 94.9 30 50.8 3 5.1 2 3.4 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0 0 0.0
P.E.I. (n=467) 412 88.2 403 86.3 381 81.6 40 8.6 124 26.6 5 1.1 18 3.9 29 6.2 9 1.9
N.S. (n=1,545) 1,500 97.1 1,457 94.3 1,435 92.9 597 38.6 19 1.2 80 5.2 295 19.1 2 0.1 118 7.6
N.B. (n=1,322) 1,262 95.5 1,293 97.8 1,234 93.3 435 32.9 3 0.2 70 5.3 63 4.8 0 0.0 15 1.1
Ont. (n=9,887) 2,127 21.5 2,616 26.5 2,178 22.0 614 6.2 695 7.0 177 1.8 556 5.6 261 2.6 514 5.2
Man. (n=1,832) 1,826 99.7 1,681 91.8 1,516 82.8 259 14.1 43 2.3 147 8.0 70 3.8 0 0.0 247 13.5
Sask. (n=716) 656 91.6 518 72.3 469 65.5 168 23.5 54 7.5 41 5.7 42 5.9 7 1.0 26 3.6
Alta. (n=10,045) 9,530 94.9 8,580 85.4 8,066 80.3 4,234 42.2 1,495 14.9 402 4.0 404 4.0 20 0.2 810 8.1
B.C. (n=1,147) 781 68.1 739 64.4 564 49.2 211 18.4 29 2.5 64 5.6 55 4.8 1 0.1 41 3.6
Y.T. (n=119) 111 93.3 107 89.9 88 73.9 42 35.3 4 3.4 10 8.4 9 7.6 1 0.8 0 0.0
N.W.T. (n=115) 108 93.9 92 80.0 73 63.5 6 5.2 4 3.5 4 3.5 13 11.3 0 0.0 15 13.0
All sites (n=27,254) 18,369 67.4 17,516 64.3 16,007 58.7 6,608 24.21 2,470 9.1 1,000 3.7 1,525 5.6 321 1.2 1,795 6.6

Numbers do not add up to totals, since more than one issue may be dealt with in an order.

1 This includes cases in which spousal support was considered, but no subsequent spousal support order was made.

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

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
Province/Territory Type of custody
Sole-Mother Sole-Father Shared Split Other Missing
n % n % n % n % n % n %
Newfoundland (n=342) 275 80.4 10 2.9 21 6.1 13 3.8 3 0.9 20 5.8
Prince Edward Island (n=532) 389 73.1 39 7.3 46 8.6 28 5.3 5 0.9 25 4.7
Nova Scotia (n=2,156) 1,657 76.9 144 6.7 67 3.1 126 5.8 21 1.0 141 6.5
New Brunswick (n=1,868) 1,330 71.2 187 10.0 100 5.4 125 6.7 9 0.5 117 6.3
Ontario (n=10,346) 7,977 77.1 898 8.7 708 6.8 377 3.6 152 1.5 234 2.3
Manitoba (n=2,402) 1,871 77.9 147 6.1 44 1.8 85 3.5 2 0.1 253 10.5
Saskatchewan (n=1,406) 1,053 74.9 80 5.7 53 3.8 66 4.7 5 0.4 149 10.6
Alberta (n=12,406) 8,993 72.5 1,097 8.8 801 6.5 700 5.6 36 0.3 779 6.3
British Columbia (n=1,427) 1,057 74.1 103 7.2 70 4.9 48 3.4 13 0.9 136 9.5
Yukon (n=209) 147 70.3 20 9.6 22 10.5 9 4.3 1 0.5 10 4.8
Northwest Territories (n=146) 104 71.2 10 6.8 8 5.5 6 4.1 0 0.0 18 12.3
All sites (n=33,240) 24,853 74.8 2,735 8.2 1,940 5.8 1,583 4.8 247 0.7 1,882 5.7

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

Table 5.6 Median Monthly Child Support Award Amount and Paying Parent Income by Province/Territory
Province/Territory Median child support Median paying parent
Amount n Income1 n
Newfoundland $300 302 $28,200 205
Prince Edward Island $301 392 $27,012 272
Nova Scotia $361 1,773 $33,400 1,804
New Brunswick $330 1,400 $31,176 1,157
Ontario $413 6,992 $35,332 6,219
Manitoba $350 2,317 $32,000 2,244
Saskatchewan $400 1,189 $35,043 1,097
Alberta $500 10,560 $39,000 11,229
British Columbia $439 1,049 $38,600 996
Yukon $495 156 $38,040 169
Northwest Territories $469 109 $41,536 97
All sites $427 26,239 $36,000 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 n
Newfoundland $108 13
Prince Edward Island $85 44
Nova Scotia $143 216
New Brunswick $111 183
Ontario $184 598
Manitoba $91 402
Saskatchewan $105 209
Alberta $104 3,106
British Columbia $126 173
Yukon $125 8
Northwest Territories $100 11
All sites $113 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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