Press Releases

International Researchers to Present Shared Parenting Research at Conference

National Parents Organization
Press Release

May 11, 2017 

International Researchers to Present Shared Parenting Research at Conference
National Parents Organization to Co-Host Scientific Child Custody Event

BOSTON – The most renowned child development experts in the world will converge in less than three weeks in Boston at a landmark event to identify what’s best for children in post-divorce parenting arrangements. During the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017, nearly 50 scientists from 18 countries, ranging from China to Australia to the Middle East to Europe to North American, will have the opportunity to review 40 years of careful research by social scientists to examine whether children actually do better with a shared parenting arrangement in which the child spends ample time with each parent.

“Rarely does a scientific conference hold out the possibility of helping millions of children within a year or two at no cost to anyone, with just a slight change in the law,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, founder and chair of National Parents Organization. “For decades, our family courts have encouraged custody battles with the outcome of choosing one parent to have sole custody. Is it possible that this has been damaging to tens of millions of children, and that by restoring both parents to them they will do better in school, have less substance abuse, feel better about themselves and get in less trouble with the law? Finally, at this conference, we will apply science instead of guesswork in determining what is in the best interest of tens of millions of children.”

Shared parenting refers to a flexible parenting arrangement after separation or divorce in which the child spends at least 35% 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. 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, National Parents Organization played a key role in Missouri, which enacted a shared parenting bill, and in Kentucky, where the  legislature unanimously passed a bill mandating shared parenting in temporary orders.

“With the current intense interest in the devastating effects of family fragmentation affecting about one-third of all children, this conference offers a faculty who are widely considered to include almost all of the leading scholars in the world on the subject of optimal post-divorce parenting arrangements,” Dr. Holstein said. “This group of eminent scholars may never before, and perhaps may never again, be brought together from all parts of the developed world in the same conference.”

Headliners for the May 29-30 conference include:

  • Malin Bergström – Sweden. Bergström is with the renowned Karolinska Institute and possesses a unique research database due to the fact that shared parenting is the norm in Sweden. She is a clinical child psychologist with 20 years of clinical experience. Bergström has written several books about child development, attachment theory and parenting. Her research focuses on children’s health and welfare in shared parenting arrangements. After having conducted mainly epidemiological studies on school-aged children and adolescents, she is now studying preschool children and infants in shared parenting settings and conducting longitudinal studies on children in different family types.
  • Sanford Braver – United States. Braver is professor emeritus at Arizona State University, where he served in the psychology department for 41 years. He was the recipient of 18 competitively reviewed, primarily federal, research grants, totaling over $28 million. His work has been published in nearly 130 peer-reviewed professional articles and chapters, and he is the author of three books, including Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths.
  • William Fabricius – United States. Fabricius is an associate professor of developmental psychology at Arizona State University. He is an expert on children’s cognitive and social-emotional development and on the role fathers play in promoting adolescents’ and young adults’ mental and behavioral health. His research in these areas has been supported by grants from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and his findings have been published in top journals in the field.
  • Edward Kruk – Canada. Kruk is associate professor of social work at the University of British Columbia, specializing in child and family policy, with over 40 years of clinical and community work experience in child and family social work. He is the author of the books Divorce and Disengagement: Patterns of Fatherhood Within and Beyond MarriageDivorced Fathers: Children’s Needs and Parental Responsibilities and The Equal Parent Presumption. His work is published widely in a variety of academic and professional journals as well. He is recognized as Canada’s leading authority on parenting after divorce and is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for research and service contributions. He also serves as president of the International Council on Shared Parenting.
  • Hildegund Sünderhauf – Germany. Sünderhauf has been professor of family law and youth welfare law at Lutheran University of Applied Sciences in Nuremberg for 17 years. She is the author of the first and only monograph about shared parenting in Germany and co-founder of the International Council on Shared Parenting. She was the initiator of Resolution 2079 of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe entitled “Equality and Shared Parental Responsibility: the Role of Fathers” that calls on the member states to “introduce into their laws the principle of shared residence following a separation.”
  • Michael Lamb – United Kingdom. Lamb is professor of psychology at the University of Cambridge in the UK. He is perhaps the most respected authority in the world on several topics in developmental psychology, including the role of parent-child relationships in development, and is considered the “father” of fatherhood research. His scholarship has shaped decision-making by family court judges, and his expert testimony in major class actions has helped transform U.S. law. In 1980, he became at 27 the youngest full professor in an American university. Over his 40-year career, Lamb has published nearly 500 professional articles, and he is the author or editor of nearly 50 books, including five editions of The Role of the Father in Child Development. He has received numerous awards, including the American Psychological Association’s (APA) 2014 award for Distinguished Contribution to Developmental Psychology and its 2015 award for Distinguished Scientific Applications of Psychology. He currently edits the APA journal, Psychology, Public Policy, and Law, and is president of APA’s developmental psychology division. He was head of the section on social and emotional development of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the leading agency in the world funding research on best outcomes for children.
  • Linda Nielsen – United States. Nielsen is professor of adolescent and educational psychology at Wake Forest University in Winston Salem, NC. She is an internationally recognized expert on shared physical custody research and father-daughter relationships, with a special emphasis on divorced fathers. In addition to her many academic journal articles, she has written three books on father-daughter relationships and three editions of the college textbook, Adolescence: A Contemporary View. She is often invited to present seminars about the shared custody research to family court and mental health professionals and to policy makers in the United States and abroad. Her work has been featured in a PBS documentary, on National Public Radio, and in magazines and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine.
  • Patrick Parkinson – Australia. Parkinson is a professor of law at the University of Sydney, Australia, and was president of the International Society of Family Law from 2011 to 2014. He has had a major role in the development of legislation and practice in family law and child protection in Australia. He served from 2004 to 2007 as chairperson of the Family Law Council, an advisory body to the federal attorney-general. He also chaired a review of the Child Support Scheme in 2004 and 2005, which led to the enactment of major changes to the Child Support Scheme. He led a major review of the state law concerning child protection, which resulted in the enactment of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. In 2004, he was instrumental in persuading the Australian prime minister at the time, John Howard, to invest in a national network of Family Relationship Centres, offering mediation and other services to parents going through separation. These have had a major role in assisting parents to resolve parenting issues and to stay out of court.
  • Richard Warshak – United States. Warshak is clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and one the world’s most respected authorities on divorce, child custody and the psychology of alienated children. Warshak has had a broad impact on family law as a White House advisor and through his studies on divorce and custody appearing in 14 books and more than 75 articles in 18 languages. His book Divorce Poison: How to Protect Your Family from Bad-mouthing and Brainwashing is the best-selling and highest reviewed book for divorced parents. In 2014, he authored a landmark review of shared parenting research whose conclusions were endorsed by 110 eminent signatories from around the world.
  • Jean Zermatten — Switzerland. Jean Zermatten was elected chairman of the United Nations Committee for the Rights of the Child by acclamation of both chambers in 2011. As part of this organization, he has worked tirelessly to improve juvenile justice and strengthen the protection of children. He regularly conducts assessment missions and gives advice to governments on several continents. He has made the rights of the child known by managing bodies and professionals, elevating the status of children in our society. By implementing different levels of training, he has made the rights of the children a field of academic study. Zermatten is also director of the International Institute for the Rights of the Child and was president of the International Association of Magistrates for Youth and Family.

Learn more about the conference by visiting


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. 


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

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