Press Releases

National Parents Organization to Co-Host Landmark International Conference on Child Custody

National Parents Organization

Press Release

March 27, 2017

International Researchers to Focus on “Best Interest of the Child” Following Divorce

BOSTON – Rarely does a scientific conference raise the possibility of dramatically changing the lives of tens of millions of families. National Parents Organization is honored to announce it will co-host a landmark event this spring: for the first time in many years, the most renowned child development experts in the world on post-divorce parenting arrangements will converge in Boston to present research results on how shared parenting after divorce or separation affects children. This event – the International Conference on Shared Parenting 2017 – will be co-hosted by the European-based International Council on Shared Parenting, and will be held at the Westin Copley Place Hotel in downtown Boston, Massachusetts, on May 29-30, 2017.

With the current intense interest in the devastating effects of family fragmentation affecting about one-third of all children, this timely 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. 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.

“Millions of children have been assumed to do best after parental divorce or separation in a sole custody arrangement, usually with the mother. But this tradition was established by attorneys and judges with no training in child development, and never established by empirical research,” said Dr. Ned Holstein, Founder and Board Chair of National Parents Organization. “The Conference will 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. With this accumulation of research, the Conference theme raises the timely question ‘Shared Parenting Research: A Watershed in Understanding Children’s Best Interest?’ said Dr. Holstein.

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 20 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 reform in Florida traveled all the way to the Governor’s desk.

The Conference will present almost 50 scientists from 18 countries ranging from China to Australia to the Middle East to Europe to North America. Headliners include:

·         Malin Bergström – Sweden. Prof. 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 experience of clinical experience. Malin 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 schoolaged 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 – USA. Sanford 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 author of 3 books including Divorced Dads: Shattering the Myths.

·         William Fabricius – USA. Prof. 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 the findings have been published in top journals in the field.

·         Edward Kruk – Canada. Prof. Kruk is Associate Professor of Social Work at the University of British Columbia, specializing in child and family policy, with over forty years of clinical and community work experience in child and family social work. He is author of the books “Divorce and Disengagement: Patterns of Fatherhood Within and Beyond Marriage”, “Divorced Fathers: Children’s Needs and Parental Responsibilities”, and “The Equal Parent Presumption”, and has published widely in a variety of academic and professional journals. He is the recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for research and service contributions, is Canada’s leading authority on parenting after divorce, and is President of the International Council on Shared Parenting.

·         Hildegund Sünderhauf – Germany. Prof. Sünderhauf has been Professor of Family Law and Youth Welfare Law at the 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 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 – UK. Prof. 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 5 editions of The Role of the Father in Child Development. He has received numerous awards including, from the American Psychological Association (APA), its 2014 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 Division 7 (Developmental Psychology). He was formerly head of the U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the leading agency in the world funding research on best outcomes for children.

·         Linda Nielsen – USA. Linda 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 U.S. 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. Prof. Parkinson is a professor of law at the University of Sydney, Australia, and was President of the International Society of Family Law from 2011-2014. He has had a major role in the development of legislation and practice in family law and child protection in Australia. He served from 2004-2007 as Chairperson of the Family Law Council, an advisory body to the federal Attorney-General, and also chaired a review of the Child Support Scheme in 2004-05 which led to the enactment of major changes to the Child Support Scheme. He was also Chairperson of a major review of the state law concerning child protection which led to the enactment of the Children and Young Persons (Care and Protection) Act 1998. In 2004, he was instrumental in persuading the Australian Prime Minister of the time, John Howard, to invest in a national network of Family Relationship Centers, 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 – USA. Prof. 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. As a White House advisor, and through his studies on divorce and custody appearing in 14 books and more than 75 articles in eighteen languages, Dr. Warshak has had a broad impact on family law. 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 UN 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.

“On the one hand, we have a grave societal crisis in that our family courts deprive so many children of the love and care they desperately need and want from both parents, and on the other hand, we have hope: the rock stars of shared parenting research will all be at the same place at the same time, all focused on identifying what’s best for kids,” Dr. Holstein said. “Finally, we will apply science instead of guesswork in determining what is in the best interest of tens of millions of children.”

Learn more about the conference by visiting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *