The Third International Conference on Shared Parenting recently concluded, co-sponsored by the National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting. The theme of this year’s conference related to the concept of the “best interests of the child” in divorce, the source of protracted debate within both the academic and professional practice communities. Many years ago, Hilary Rodham, then a family lawyer, declared that children’s best interests are nothing more than an empty vessel into which adult prejudices are poured. Since that time, however, family scholars have taken a much more child-focused approach to the study of children’s needs and interests, a “best interests of the child from the perspective of the child” perspective.
Thus the question, “Have we reached a watershed in understanding the best interests of children in situations of family separation and divorce?,” was placed front and center during conference deliberations. Specifically, it was asked, have we reached the point where we can conclude with some confidence that the best interests of children are commensurate with a legal presumption of shared parenting responsibility for children and families, rebuttable in cases of family violence and child abuse? Are we at a point where the scientific evidence points in the direction of mandating that shared parenting becomes the foundation of family law?
This broad review elaborates on the most up-to-date knowledge on biochemical and psychobiological aspects of parental loss and other childhood adversities during divorce involving minor children. So far, divorce involving minor children was unfortunately considered by authorities only as a purely juridical problem, and this approach has often allowed a completely different approach according to the Courts. Now, scientific research,also making use of animal models, is demonstrating the biological basis of the problem and the ndisputable consequences on the well-being and health of children. The innovative conclusion of this review is that this argument (because of its frequency and gravity) is primarily a question of public health and that it is necessary to further harmonize practices in this area.
On June 22, 2016, the International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP) held an informal meeting - endorsed by Mrs Françoise Hetto-Gaasch, the initiator of Resolution 2079 (2015) - with members of the Parlamentary Assembly at the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, on the subject
The meeting language was French.
The movement for shared parenting continues to grow in western democracies. In addition to support for shared parenting from the Roman Catholic Church, and the Resolution favoring shared parenting passed by the Council of Europe, now comes news of three recent European meetings.
U.S. government statistics tell us that over a third of all American children are not living in two-parent homes: forty per cent of children are born out of wedlock and between 33-50 per cent of children of divorce lose complete contact with one parent within three years. Usually it’s the father.
International Developments and the Greek Reality on Parental Responsibilities of Children of Separated and Divorced Parents: The Need for Institutional Reforms
Find the full conference report here
This white paper describes the purpose and background of a two-year project to stem the tide of misinformation that was generating confusion about where the scientific community stood on shared parenting for preschool children. Four decades of research were reviewed, analyzed, and vetted by incorporating feedback from an international group of experts in the fields of attachment, early child development, parent-child relations, and divorce. Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report was published in the American Psychological Association’s journal, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, with the endorsement of 110 highly accomplished researchers and practitioners, several who contributed seminal studies cited in the report.
Council of Europe member states should remove from their laws any difference based on marital status between parents who have acknowledged their child and ensure that parents have equal rights vis-à-vis their children under their laws and administrative practice, the PACE Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination has said.
In adopting a draft resolution unanimously on equality and shared parental responsibility prepared by Françoise Hetto-Gaasch (Luxembourg, EPP/CD), the members said that the role of fathers vis-à-vis their children, including very young children, needs to be better recognised and properly valued.
With his usual flair for presenting complex data in a form all can grasp and understand, Joe Sorge quickly made the case for how home and work life in the United States have changed dramatically yet our family laws and our family law courts and child support guidelines have remained stuck in the past. Modern family roles and structures have evolved, yet the laws have not.
A highlight of the conference was Malin Bergstrom, PhD, a developmental psychologist with the Division of Reproductive Health at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. Bergstrom and her colleagues have completed a study of the well-being of every (176,000) 12-15-year-old child in Sweden in order to ascertain the effects of family structure on the children. Children in intact families perform better on a wide variety of measures of physical health, mental health, and educational outcomes than do the children of divorce. Children of divorce whose parents share their care equally do better on all those measures than do the children of single parents.
The other striking piece of her presentation was that Bergstrom stated that the legal reform came first; followed by social change. Obviously, this confirms National Parents Organization’s work and strategy.