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In 1961, 92 per cent of Canadian families were headed by married couples.By 2016, this number had declined to 65.8 per cent — a change mostly due to the rising popularity of common-law unions.Common law unions fall under provincial jurisdiction, and are treated differently in different provinces.In British Columbia and Newfoundland and Labrador, for example, couples must live together in a conjugal relationship for two years before they have the same rights and responsibilities as married couples.Nuptial patterns in Québec differ from the rest of Canada.Some of the differences are rooted in the Quiet Revolution of the 1960s, when fewer people chose a religious marriage and more began to choose common-law unions.
In 2000, the census indicated a slight rise in the marriage rate, five for every 1,000 people, which was attributed to couples choosing to marry at the start of the new millennium.
The baby-boom period (1946 to 1965) was a time when couples married relatively young and by current standards had large families.
Today, the trend for an aging population continues, and there are more couples without children.
A common-law union occurs when two people live together in a conjugal relationship, generally for at least a year (or more depending on the province they reside in).
Common-law couples in Canada have many of the same legal, parental and financial rights and obligations as married couples.
By 2008, the average age for first marriage was much higher, 29.6 years for women and 31.6 years for men.