June 1, 2023 – Exciting conclusions from 6th ESP International Conference
Gene C. Colman Introduction: Yes, my friends. It has been a while. I published my previous ESP Thought of the Day #98 on May 3, 2022. My apologies to you ESP advocates. Let’s start today with some exciting news….
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INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SHARED PARENTING 2023
Held May 5, 6 and 7, 2023 in Athens, Greece and on line
There were over 100 speakers.
Conference theme was: New Paradigms: Advances in Research and Practice on Shared Parenting.
The Conference published nine conclusions. Here they are. I have taken the liberty of adding bold italics to help you catch the essence of this very important conference.
The Conclusions of the Sixth International Conference on Shared Parenting are as follows:
1. We reaffirmed the main conclusion from our first international conference: There is a consensus that neither the discretionary best interests of the child standard nor sole custody or primary residence orders are serving the needs of children and families of divorce. 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. The amount of shared parenting time necessary to achieve child well being and positive outcomes is a minimum of one-third time with each parent, with additional benefits accruing up to and including equal (50-50) parenting time, including both weekday (routine) and weekend (leisure) time.
2. We reaffirmed the main conclusion from our second international conference: “As shared parenting encompasses both shared parental authority (decision-making) and shared parental responsibility for the day-to-day upbringing and welfare of children, between fathers and mothers, in keeping with children’s age and stage of development, there is consensus that the legal implementation of shared parenting, including both the assumption of shared responsibilities and presumption of shared rights in regard to the parenting of children by fathers and mothers who are living together or apart, be enshrined in law.”
3. We strengthened the main conclusion from our third international conference: On the basis of current research evidence, social scientists can now confidently recommend presumptive shared parenting to policy makers. Shared parenting now has enough evidence that the burden of proof should fall to those who oppose it rather than those who promote it.
4. We reaffirmed the main recommendation from our fourth international conference, calling upon the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, governments and professional associations to identify shared parenting as a fundamental right of the child. We went further to state that a corresponding Charter of Responsibilities to Children’s Needs in the Separation and Divorce Transition is needed, and that shared parenting responsibility is most in keeping with a responsibility-to-needs approach to the best interests of the child. There is a consensus that it is the responsibility of social institutions, including public and private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities and legislative bodies, to support parents in their shared responsibility to address their children’s needs in the separation and divorce transition.
5. There is consensus that the lack of responsibility and the lack of accountability of social institutions, including public and private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities and legislative bodies, is a significant factor compromising the well-being of children of separation and divorce and their families, and strong accountability structures are urgently needed and should be established forthwith.
6. At the same time, there is consensus that parents bear responsibility for inducing problems such as parental alienation and psychological disorders in children. Parents and professionals should be conscious about parents’ attachment styles and motivational beliefs, and professional support to break the intergenerational cycle of such harmful family patterns and dynamics is vital.
7. We reaffirmed the main conclusions from our fifth internationalconference: 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. Shared parenting serves as a bulwark against first-time family violence, and we thus support arebuttable presumption of shared parenting in contested cases of child custody, and advocate for shared parenting as the foundation of family law reform. At the same time, there is a consensus that shared parenting is an optimal arrangement for the majority of children and families, including high conflict families, but not for situations of substantiated family violence and child abuse. We thus support a rebuttable legal presumption against shared parenting in family violence cases.
8. There is consensus that addressing the issue of family violence in separation and divorce cases, and addressing parental alienation subsequent to separation and divorce, are not mutually exclusive endeavors. Recognition of parental alienation as a form of family violence is part of our collective responsibility to address family violence in all its forms. All attempts to polarize the need to address parental alienation on the one hand, and other forms of family violence on the other, place children and family members at risk.
9. Formal and informal social support is vital not only to the well-being of children, parents and extended families undergoing separation and divorce, but also to the success of shared parenting arrangements. The role of social capital in assisting children and families in their transition to shared parenting arrangements cannot be underestimated.