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Entries in ICSP (6)

Tuesday
Dec112018

International Shared Parenting Conference

Over 200 delegates attended the fourth international conference on shared parenting in Strasbourg on 22nd-23rd November 2018.  The conference was held in the Council of Europe building and the opening session was addressed by Gabriella Battaini-Dragoni, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe.

She said: “There is an apparent, growing consensus that, when possible, shared parenting should be supported as part of separation and divorce arrangements.”

Shared parenting aims to maintain positive relationships between children and their parents in high-conflict separations and empower parents to meet their parental responsibilities in an equal way, she stressed.

The concept extends the principle of gender equality and challenges the stereotype of the father as breadwinner and the mother as nurturing carer and homemaker, still deeply entrenched in many cultures and still playing a role in many custody agreements.

However, shared parenting should not become a goal in itself or a systematic resumption: there are cases when shared custody does not correspondent to the child’s best interests. The decision on whether shared parenting is the best solution must take into account the individual circumstances, such as situations of intra-family violence, as well as the child’s views and expressed position.

The president of the International Council of Shared Parenting (ICSP) Edward Kruk, Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, stated that this conference marks the watershed in shared parenting, it is now established as a norm.  Those who oppose shared parenting have to prove why it should not take place.

Regina Jensdottir, Head of the Children´s Rights Division of the Council of Europe also mentioned moving on from gender stereotypes.  Both men and women have the right to balance work and parenting, shared parenting is a way forward for this. Efficient and fast moving justice systems are very important if cases have to go to court and non-compliance with court orders is a serious issue.

Amongst the many contributions to the ICSP conference two judicial presentations stood out. Marie-France Carlier, a judge at the Namur Family Court in Belgium described how family courts have developed since the Belgian law was changed in 2006 to a rebuttable presumption of shared parenting.  There is principle of one family, one file and one judge with speedy procedures - 15 days to consider decisions.

She noted that the judge has to conciliate. Their first task is to reconcile people. They have to prioritise shared parenting but are free to decide otherwise.  The person who doesn't want shared parenting has to provide reasons such as distance, very young children or child protection.  Equal shared residence has been ordered in 50% of cases in Liege and 48% in Anvers. Priority actions include reducing the hurtfulness of words in court papers, meeting strict time deadlines, keeping children in touch with what is happening, the use of mediation and consensus, preventing alienation from becoming embedded. 

Jürgen Rudolph described how he is spreading the word in various countries about the Cochem system that he developed as a family judge in Germany.  This involves linking the work of all the professionals around the court: judges, lawyers, psychologists youth workers and social workers. 

The goal is to get the parents to "look in the eyes of their children and get them talking again. Early intervention is vital. The lawyer bringing the case is only allowed to submit one page to the court and the other side is not allowed to write anything.  Rather than having lots of paper the professionals have to speak with the parents and children. Court hearings should take place within one or two weeks.  The court can put pressure on the parents to go on a journey and see the situation through the eyes of the child. 

Families Need Fathers Scotland hopes to invite judges Carlier and Rudolph to speak in Scotland in 2019 as a contribution to the discussion of changes in Scottish family law and court procedures.  Their hand's on experience of how radically different systems can bring major benefits for both families and courts should make a valuable contribution to this discussion.

Ian Maxwell from FNFS brought this Scottish debate to the attention of delegates in a workshop session describing how we are "Still Beating the Drum For Shared Parenting".  

Wednesday
Jun202018

International Shared Parenting Conference in Strasbourg

The fourth conference of the International Council on Shared Parenting is to be held in Strasbourg on November 22-23 this year at Palais de l'Europe.  Early bird booking is now open here.

The theme of this conference is: Shared Parenting, Social Justice and Children´s Rights.  The conference is organized under the auspices of the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr. Thorbjørn Jaglandand supported by the City of Strasbourg, the University of Strasbourg and the Jardin des Sciences.

The conference intends to report how, within judicial systems and social work practices, both parents are recognized as vital in their children’s lives, even after separation and divorce. It will explore how shared parenting seems a means for keeping with the principles and articles of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Thus, a focus of the conference is to stress how shared parenting, viewed as in the best interests of children of separated parents, is a crucial issue for practitioners and policymakers around the globe, regarding the alignment of national law and practices with the articles of the UN CRC.

The conference is structured along four main questions.

  • What are the existing legal systems and the challenges regarding the legal presumption of shared parenting as a children’s right, in different countries?
  • What are the current trends and research outcomes regarding social attitudes and knowledge about shared parenting?
  • To what extent could shared parenting, gender equality and work-life balance be combined to improve health and wellbeing of children whose parents are separated?
  • How should national laws and international regulations be adapted for considering these social evolutions?

Speakers include:
⦁ Regina Jensdottir, Head of the Children´s Rights Division of the Council of Europe
⦁ Linos Alexandros Sicilianos (tbc), Judge, Professor of Law, Vice-president of the European Court of Human Rights, University of Athens – Greece
⦁ Jean Zermatten (tbc) President and Member of UN committee for Children’s rights (2005-2013), University of Geneva – Switzerland
⦁ Marie-France Carlier, Judge at Namur Family Court (division of the Namur and Dinant Family Court) – Belgium
⦁ Adeline Gouttenoire, Professor of Law, University of Bordeaux – France
⦁ Hildegund Sünderhauf, Professor for family law and youth welfare law, Lutheran University of applied sciences, Nuremberg – Germany
⦁ José Manuel de Torres Perea, Professor of Civil Law, University of Málaga – Spain
⦁ Lluis Flaquer, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, University Autònoma de Barcelona – Spain
⦁ Livia Olah, Associate Professor, Ph.D., Dept. of Sociology, Stockholm University – Sweden
⦁ Gerardo Meil, Professor in Sociology, University Autónoma of Madrid – Spain
⦁ Malin Bergström, Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS), Stockholm University – Sweden
⦁ William Fabricius, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Arizona State University – USA
⦁ Michael Lamb, Professor of Psychology, University of Cambridge – United Kingdom
⦁ Blaise Pierrehumbert, PhD, former Privat-Docent in psychology, University of Lausanne, Switzerland
⦁ Derrick Gordon, Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Psychology Section), Ph.D., Yale University School of Medicine – USA
⦁ Christine Simon, Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - USA
⦁ Edward Kruk, Associate Professor of Social Work, ICSP/CIRA President, University of British Columbia – Canada
Papers will be presented from seventeen countries including Denmark, Norway, Finland, Germany, Slovakia, Portugal, Scotland,  Canada, Brazil, Kenya and Iran. Ian Maxwell from FNF Scotland will present a paper about our progress towards family law reform and shared parenting in Scotland.

Thursday
Oct292015

Second International Shared Parenting Conference in Bonn

The second International Conference on Shared Parenting will take place on 9-11 December 2015 in Bonn, Germany.  FNF Scotland will attend the event and tell the international audience how Scotland's Year of the Dad will include promotion of shared parenting.

Experts from science, family professions and civil society will gather from across the world at the “Gustav-Stresemann-Institut (GSI)” in Bonn to present their research and discuss best practices for legislative and psycho-social implementation of shared parenting as a viable and beneficial solution for children whose parents are living apart.

The event will be jointly chaired by the President of the International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP), Prof. Edward Kruk, MSW, PhD, University of British Columbia, Canada, and the Chair of the ICSP Scientific Committee, Prof. Dr. Hildegund Sünderhauf, Lutheran University Nuremberg, Germany.

The International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP) is an international association with individual members from the sectors science, family professions and civil society. The purpose of the association is  the dissemination and advancement of scientific knowledge on the needs and rights (“best interests”) of children whose parents are living apart, and to formulate evidence-based recommendations about the legal, judicial and practical implementation of shared parenting.

Sunday
Jul202014

Sweden leads the way in shared parenting

Percentage of children with separated parents in shared care

As the above graph shows, Sweden currently leads the way in shared care. As it is also a country that systematically collects data on the public health of the whole population, it is becoming possible to assess how children and young people are affected by shared parenting.

Dr Malin Bergstrom from the Swedish Centre for Health Equity Studies (CHESS) presented results from a study on the mental health and life quality of children in a shared parenting arrangement.

She explained that shared parenting levels are so high in Sweden because fathers are more involved from birth - she reported hearing a father say "we gave birth" when talking to the midwife. Shared parenting has grown from 18% to 38% between 1984 and 2011, helped by a change in family law in 1998, but the law alone is not sufficient - public opinions and attitudes have changed to support it.

In a whole population study of 11-15 year old children, children in shared parenting showed lower levels of truanting (19%) than those in sole care of mothers (22%) or fathers (28%) and only slightly above children living with both parents (18%). Many other indicators of mental health and well-being show similar results.  

These Swedish findings are comparable to the recent Growing Up in Scotland study, in which seven-year old children not in regular contact with their father were more than twice as those who have regular contact with their father to show behavioural and emotional difficulties (36% vs 15%, figure 3.2 on page 18).

Sunday
Jul202014

Law grants custody rights to Swiss fathers

Divorced fathers in Switzerland are now entitled to joint legal custody of their children. Previously, mothers were usually awarded sole custody.
The law, which took effect at the start of July 2014, also allows fathers to apply for custody retroactively if the divorce or separation had taken place within the past five years.
The change in the law means that both parents will have an equal say when it comes to making decisions about the children. However, it does not mean that both parents will share physical custody of their children. The Swiss Parliament had approved a government proposal in June last year, but implementation of the reform was delayed by several months amid concerns by the cantons over an expected flood of requests.
While these new laws represent considerable progress, married and unmarried parents are still teated diffferently and the interests of grandparents, foster parents and other stakeholders are still ignored.
In her speech at the ICSP conference, Swiss family lawyer Anne Reiser suggested that post separation negotiations should be not be conducted like a chess game, in which the outcome is a death or loss for one side.  The strategy game Go provides a more useful approach, in which players compete to get the biggest territory but also make sure that the other party can also live.