June 8, 2017
2017 International Conference on Shared Parenting Advances Family Court Reform Efforts
National Parents Organization Co-Hosted Landmark Event
BOSTON – For two days, attendees from 24 countries, ranging from China to the Middle East to Europe and North America, converged in Boston to hear child development experts throughout the world present more than 35 studies on what’s best for children when parents divorce or separate.
“The scientific evidence was crystal clear: Children with shared parenting after parental separation or divorce show better grades in school, better social adjustment, less drug and alcohol use, less truancy and delinquency, and better overall health. They desperately want and need both parents. Only rarely do we find that a simple change in the law can have so many positive effects for children, and at no cost to the taxpayer,” said National Parents Organization’s Founder and Board Chair, Ned Holstein, MD.
The 2017 International Conference on Shared Parenting, hosted by Boston-based National Parents Organization and European-based International Council on Shared Parenting, was held at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston.
Shared parenting refers to a flexible parenting arrangement after separation or divorce in which the child spends at least one third of the time, and as close to equal time as possible, with each parent, assuming both parents are fit and there has been no domestic violence. While shared parenting remains uncommon in the United States, it has been the norm in Sweden and Australia for years, and about 25 states have proposed laws in recent years to implement it, according to The Wall Street Journal. In just the last six months, for example, Missouri enacted a shared parenting bill, and the Kentucky legislature unanimously passed a bill mandating shared parenting in temporary orders.
The conference occurred at a time when the devastating effects of family fragmentation affect at least one-third of all children.
“On the one hand, we have a grave societal crisis in that our family courts deprive so many children of the love and care of both parents. On the other hand, the rock stars of shared parenting research agree that shared parenting is part of the solution,” Dr. Holstein said. “Finally, we are able to apply science instead of guesswork in determining what is in the best interest of tens of millions of children. Based on the research presented at this conference, I hope that legislatures from coast to coast will reshape custody laws to encourage shared parenting, so that we can align our laws with what’s best for children.”
RECENT RESEARCH: SHARED PARENTING VERSUS SINGLE PARENTING
Shared Parenting Data
· In December, 2016, The American Psychological Association published research by William V. Fabricius of Arizona State University in the journal Psychology, Public Policy and Law titled, “Should Infants and Toddlers Have Frequent Overnight Parenting Time With Fathers? The Policy Debate and New Data.” Prof Fabricius’ findings provide “… strong support for policies to encourage frequent overnight parenting time [up to and including 50/50 overnights –Ed] for infants and toddlers [even younger than one year –Ed], because the benefits [for children-Ed] associated with overnights also held for parents who initially agreed about overnights as well as for those who disagreed and had the overnight parenting plan imposed over 1 parent’s objections.” Fabricius will share details on his findings during the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, a May 29-30, 2017 event in Boston, Mass., hosted by National Parents Organization and the International Council on Shared Parenting.
· The Journal of the American Psychological Association published a paper titled “Social Science and Parenting Plans for Young Children: A Consensus Report” in 2014, and the conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent authorities around the world. Authored by Dr. Richard Warshak at the University of Texas, the paper concluded, “... shared parenting should be the norm for parenting plans for children of all ages, including very young children.”
· In 2016, Dr. Warshak wrote, “Two years after its publication, the conclusions and recommendations of the Warshak consensus report remain supported by science.” He also wrote, “The paper has been translated into at least eighteen languages and has informed legislative deliberations throughout the U.S. and parliamentary deliberations in several countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Israel, Finland, Romania, Croatia, and Sweden. Two years after its publication, the consensus report continues to be one of the most downloaded papers from the journal’s website.” He added, “The list of endorsers and their stature and accomplishments reflect the field’s general acceptance of the consensus report’s findings as rooted in settled science from more than four decades of research directly relevant to this topic, including seminal studies by many of the endorsers.”
· The Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health published a 150,000-person study titled “Fifty moves a year: Is there an association between joint physical custody and psychosomatic problems in children?” in 2015 that concluded shared parenting after divorce or separation is in the best interest of children’s health because the arrangement lowers their stress levels.
· The Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC) published the recommendations of 32 family law experts in 2014, and the group concluded, “Children’s best interests are furthered by parenting plans that provide for continuing and shared parenting relationships that are safe, secure, and developmentally responsive and that also avoid a template calling for a specific division of time imposed on all families.”
Single Parenting Data
According to federal statistics from sources including the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Census Bureau, children raised by single parents account for:
• 63% of teen suicides;
• 70% of juveniles in state-operated institutions;
• 71% of high school drop-outs;
• 75% of children in chemical abuse centers;
• 85% of those in prison;
• 85% of children who exhibit behavioral disorders; and
• 90% of homeless and runaway children.
Ned Holstein, M.D., M.S.
A regular contributor to local and national media, Dr. Holstein is Founder and Chair of the Board of National Parents Organization. Dr. Holstein was appointed by the Governor of Massachusetts to the Massachusetts Working Group on Child-Centered Family Law, and he was previously appointed by a Massachusetts Chief Justice to a task force charged with reviewing and revising the state’s child support guidelines.
A graduate of Harvard College, Holstein also earned a Master’s degree in psychology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. His medical degree is from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, where he later served on the faculty as a teacher and researcher.
ABOUT NATIONAL PARENTS ORGANIZATION
National Parents Organization, a charitable and educational 501 (c)(3) organization, seeks better lives for children through family law reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers after divorce or separation. The organization is focused on promoting shared parenting and preserving a child’s strong bond with both parents, which is critically important to their emotional, mental, and physical health. In 2014, National Parents Organization released the Shared Parenting Report Card, the first study to rank the states on child custody laws. Visit the National Parents Organization website at www.nationalparentsorganization.org