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2006 Census: Family portrait: Continuity and change in Canadian families and households in 2006: National portrait: Census families

Lone-mother families remain the majority of lone-parent families but growth is higher for lone-father families

The majority (80.1%) of the 1,414,100 lone-parent families in 2006 were comprised of women and their children. The remaining 19.9% consisted of lone-parent families headed by men.

For at least the past 20 years, there has been a fairly consistent pattern of about four lone-parent families headed by women for every one lone-parent family headed by a man. However, families headed by men have been growing at a faster pace. Between 2001 and 2006, lone-father families rose 14.6%, more than twice the pace of 6.3% for lone-mother families.

One explanation for the faster gain among lone-parent families headed by men is that fewer mothers are granted sole custody following a divorce. In 2003, the custody of less than half (47.7%) of dependents determined through divorce proceedings was awarded only to the mother, down from over three-quarters (78.2%) in 1980.1 In contrast, custody of 43.8% of dependents was awarded to both the father and mother in 2003, continuing an upward trend of joint custody arrangements.

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