According to the 2006 Census, a growing proportion of children aged 14 and under lived with common-law parents, a direct consequence of the rapid increase in common-law-couple families.
Of the 5.6 million children aged 14 and under who lived in private households, 14.6% lived with parents in a common-law union in 2006. This was up from 12.8% in 2001, more than triple the percentage of 4.5% two decades earlier.
Figure 13 Proportion of children aged 14 and under living with married parents continues to decrease
The growing tendency of children to live with parents not legally married to each other has contributed to a decline in the proportion of children who live with married parents. While the majority of children aged 14 and under (65.7%) lived with married parents in 2006, this was down from 68.4% in 2001. Twenty years earlier, 81.2% of children in this age group had married parents.
Results from the 2006 General Social Survey (GSS) showed that common-law unions were less stable and less likely to have children. According to the 2001 GSS, about 29.7% of women in their thirties whose first conjugal union was a marriage would be expected to separate, compared to 63.2% for those whose first union was common-law.1 However, because common-law partners were typically younger than married spouses, children also tended to be younger.2
Less than one in five (18.3%) children aged 14 and under lived with lone parents in 2006, up slightly from 17.8% in 2001.