Europe Moves Towards Shared Parenting

Council of Europe Encourages Shared Parenting

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October 20, 2015

NPO Logo National Parents Organization improves the lives of children and strengthens society by protecting every child's right to the love and care of both parents after separation or divorce. We seek better lives for children through family court reform that establishes equal rights and responsibilities for fathers and mothers.
Europe Moves Towards Shared Parenting
By Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Acting Executive Director, National Parents Organization
Join Me in Bonn, Germany on December 9-11 for Second International Conference on Shared Parenting

The International Council on Shared Parenting (ICSP) is a dynamic young European-based organization that is pulling together a wealth of leading-edge information about shared parenting that is often hard to find in the United States. It is holding its second International Conference on Shared Parenting in Bonn, Germany from December 9 to 11, 2015. The primary language of the conference will be English; a few presentations will be given in French or German, in which case there will be simultaneous translation into English.

Best airport from North America: Frankfurt, then high speed train to Bonn. Or combine a fabulous trip to Paris or Amsterdam with an easy train ride to Bonn. The dollar is strong, so your timing is perfect.

I will be attending (and speaking), and it would be great to meet you there right around the holiday season.

Here is a link to the program, and here is another link to registration and accommodations. Register right away for this unique conference!

The First International Conference held by this organization, whose Board of Directors I serve on, resulted in this consensus statement about shared parenting: “There is a consensus that shared parenting is a viable post-divorce parenting arrangement that is optimal to child development and well-being, including for children of high conflict parents.”

At the upcoming conference, you can hear distinguished researchers such as Edward Kruk of Canada, Malin Bergstrom of Sweden, Alexander Masardo of England, and Dimitri Mortelmans of Belgium. You can learn the latest about shared parenting results from Australia, Sweden, Spain, Belgium, and about legal changes in the European Union generally (see related article below). You can listen to representatives of parents’ organizations from Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Denmark and the U.S. (me). And you can hear from distinguished child psychologists who consult in the family courts in Belgium, Germany, France, Ireland and elsewhere. Read more...

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Council of Europe Encourages Shared Parenting

By Ned Holstein, MD, MS, Founder and Acting Executive Director, National Parents Organization
In a sign of the changing times, an official European organization known as the Council of Europe (COE) passed a resolution on October 2, 2015 that encourages the European countries to pass shared parenting legislation. The COE does not itself have legislative powers, but its deliberations are considered influential within the parliaments of the members states.

The adopted resolution includes the following provisions:

In light of these considerations, the Assembly calls on the member States to:
  • 5.5. introduce into their laws the principle of shared residence following a separation, but under no circumstances in cases of sexual or gender-based violence, with the amount of time for which the child lives with each parent being adjusted according to the child’s needs and interests;
  • 5.6. respect the right of children to be heard in all matters that affect them when they are deemed to have a sufficient understanding of the matters in question;
  • 5.7. take shared residence arrangements into account when awarding social benefits;
  • 5.8. take all necessary steps to ensure that decisions relating to children’s residence and to access rights are fully enforced, including by following up complaints with respect to failure to hand over a child;
(By the way, the author of this resolution will be speaking at the Second International Conference on Shared Parenting described above.)

Even though this action is only advisory in nature, it is another big sign that the battle to reform the family courts is being won. Shared parenting has been implemented in Australia, Sweden, and elsewhere. In the United States, about 20 states are considering shared parenting legislation. In some states, shared parenting is quietly becoming the norm, at least in divorce cases as opposed to never-married cases, without any change in legislation. No state or country that we know of is going in the wrong direction. The opposition from women’s groups is noticeably decreased. The media are increasingly supportive. About the only major organized forces still actively opposing shared parenting are the bar associations, and they are starting to be looked at skeptically.

The action by the COE was passed by an overwhelming vote of 46 to 2. Even more interesting is that the winning arguments were mostly about parental rights and equality, not “best interest of the child.” For instance, the resolution originated in the Committee on Equality and Non-Discrimination. Also, the approved resolution states, “In light of these considerations...” What exactly are the four “considerations” that lead to the resolution?

The first one is gender equality: “Within families, equality between parents must be guaranteed and promoted from the moment the child arrives.” Read more...

Next week: New Developments in the United States.

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The International Council on Shared Parenting 2015

The International Council on Shared Parenting
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