Have you recently arrived in Canada and are in a relationship? Presumably a sponsored one? Should you separate, do you still want to stay in Canada? Since October 25, 2012, you have to live together for 2 years, either as a married couple or in a common-law relationship, before you can separate. In that case, you get to stay. Otherwise, you run the risk of being deported. Immigrant support groups and Women’s Advocacy groups have cried foul. A woman bound to her sponsoring-spouse for two years would raise the possibility of immigrant women being unwilling to escape an abusive relationship for fear of being put on a plane out of the country, according to them. Prime Minister Harper and his Conservative government are at it again they tell us. So, the question becomes, what are the stats regarding marriages of convenience that the new regulation sought to contain when it was put into place? Are sponsored couples divorce-prone, and their marriages convenience-arrangements, while looking merely to gain permanent residence status?

 

It’s income level, stupid

Canadian Tire Money By Tomasz Piwowarek BioPub (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Canadian Tire Money by Tomasz Piwowarek / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

While a clear set of statistics on divorce rates among the immigrant community is scarce, what the statistics definitely show is that immigrants who are separated or divorced are almost two and a half times as likely to be in a low-income family. Statistics also suggest that immigrant families are less likely to divorce or live in common law relationships. There are fewer lone-parent families within the immigrant community, but there are significantly more extended families living in the same residence, compared with non-immigrant families. So to suggest that sponsored couples are divorce-prone opportunists is a stretch at best. In fact, we Canadians should be grateful that the institution of marriage is being saved by new Canadians. Think about it:

 

Five reasons why you should be married, like your neighbour, to someone from somewhere far away

You´ll be wealthier. Don’t ask exactly how – that’s up to you. But statistically you’ll have more cash. You can share the rent or mortgage payments and dip into your spouse’s bank account to pay the minimum balance on your credit card bills.

  1. You’ll have two cars in the driveway, even if you can never drive one of them.
  2. You might get to change diapers, look desperately for available daycare space and get up at 5 AM to go to take your offspring to hockey practice, or desperately drive back from work to pick up your darling daughter after her ballet classes. Or maybe both.
  3. You get to include your partner in your HMO’s coverage … Oh wait. We’re in Canada, you get basically the same public health care – the part of it that is public … forget about dental care and a few other things like rehab – whether you are married, separated, single or  just annoying. By the way, did you know that some economists think that shared health care benefits are one of the main reasons for the high marriage rate in the USA? And not religious beliefs, given the high divorce rates among evangelical Christians. A little aside if you will. Studies on the matter are hotly debated as you can imagine. But just in case you or your spouse get a great job in Chicago, being married is definitely a benefit when it comes to health care.
  4. You will not die as easily. Never mind the five-times-as-likely-to-die-from-infectious-disease that a UCLA study showed for single people. Or the 40% more-likely-to-die from a heart attack. Did you know that single people are twice as likely to die from accidents?? Want to go drinking with your buddies but your spouse needs you at home to put up a pair of shelves for her origami collection? She is saving your life and helping you live longer as the two of you argue furiously over where to put the supports, and if the shelves are level and whether she likes the colour. 

 

So maybe your married neighbours from far away are a beacon of light shining mercilessly on your egotistical single life. Maybe they are the example you need to go out and finally propose. And even if you don’t have anyone to propose to or to propose to you, maybe they can motivate you to start looking. Of course, it’s also more likely, on average that they’ve never been divorced before. You also have to think about that:

Five reasons why your neighbour from far away might not like Canadian Divorce Laws

Divorice for men only By mandiberg (divorce for men only...) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0) or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Divorce sign by mandiberg / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY 2.0

  1. He is a traditionalist male. Studies show that higher husband income outcomes are associated with lower probabilities of divorce, while higher wife income outcomes are associated with higher probabilities of divorce. Some male-rights advocates argue that family court law in Canada is a direct subsidy from husband to wife. Family courts in Canada disagree with that assessment needless to say.
  2. He is an old-fashioned male. Studies show that the wife gets custody of the kids in up to 85% of cases.
  3. He is an old-fashioned male who doesn’t like cold Canadian winters. Statistically, January is the busiest month for divorce in Canada.
  4. He is an old-fashioned male who doesn’t like cold Canadian winters but lives and works in Whitehorse for some reason. The divorce rate in Yukon is the highest in the land at a whopping 59.7%.
  5. He is an old-fashioned male who spends frugally. The cost of a typical divorce in Canada can range between 5,000 and 100,000 dollars. Then there are alimony payments.

 

Is it fair?

Scales of Justice

[Public Domain]

No, not the divorce laws. There’s not enough space here for that discussion. Is the 2 year living together requirement fair to immigrants? Especially immigrant women? Maybe there could be more flexibility regarding separation as opposed to divorce. Maybe you should have to wait 2 years before applying for a divorce, but be able to separate without being deported. Of course, that means separate housing, separate cable and internet connections, separate grocery shopping etc.  And that means financial assistance for those who can’t pay their way when newly separated. Is that fair?  

Sponsor your spouse or partner to Canada


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