International Commission on Couple and Family Relations

Conference 2021: Programme



Session 0: Online – Introductory Keynote by Katharine Hill

In her video, Katharine Hill first outlines the surprising benefits that have accrued from the COVID-19 pandemic, including greater closeness among many families and communities and opportunities to appreciate what is close to hand. She then looks at the other side of the coin: the problems and challenges that have afflicted many individuals, couples and families – domestic abuse, isolation and loneliness, poverty and lack of access to education and to the socialising that is one of the great pluses of attending an educational institution. Her talk is illustrated with examples and quotes from research conducted both by Care for the Family and by other organisations.


Session 1: Monday, 08 November 2021 at 5pm GMT/UTC

The impact of the pandemic on families and family support systems

  • Robert Simon, San Diego, USA: The Impact of the Pandemic on Family Support Practitioners
    See Details on the input
    Self-care for professionals is always a challenge given our busy schedules and the many demands on our time. In the “age of COVID”, self-care becomes even more important and perhaps even more challenging. This presentation with discuss self-care for professionals, the components of well-being, elements of how we can derive more satisfaction from the work we do (and what tends to make us not satisfied). Specific ideas for behaviours and activities that promote well-being will be discussed and illustrated.
     See more on Robert A. Simon

    Robert A. Simon, Ph.D. is an internationally recognized leader in forensic psychology consulting. Based in San Diego, CA, and Maui, HI, Dr. Simon is retained by attorneys throughout the country to consult on custody cases and provide expert witness testimony.Dr. Simon is an immediate past member of the Board of Directors of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts and serves on the editorial board of the Family Court Review. He is a member of the Board of Directors of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges and the Chair of the Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice. He is the Chair of the International Board of Directors of the World Congress on Family Law and Children’s Rights and a member of the Executive Committee of the California Bar Court. He is a former member of the Committee on Professional Responsibility and Conduct of the California Bar Association and a former senior member of the Ethics Committee of the California Psychological Association.Dr. Simon does a great deal of international consulting, teaching and lecturing. He has provided training to mental health professionals, attorneys and judicial officers in America, Australia, Singapore and Italy. He was invited by the Family Court of Australia and the Federal Circuit Court of Australia to be a lead trainer in their national conference of the court’s Family Consultants. He is the co-author of the book Forensic Psychology Consultation in Child Custody Litigation: A Handbook for Work Product Review, Case Preparation and Expert Testimony. Dr. Simon has also published numerous articles in scholarly journals.
  • Sarah Hawker, Rome, Italy: The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Self-esteem of European Families, Couples and Individuals
    Details on the input
    With the help of a PowerPoint presentation, I will show that many people in Europe have lost their self-esteem as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
    With little or no self-esteem, many lose their capacity to continue their private and/or work lifestyle. They feel disorientated and in many cases depression and even suicide may ensue.
    I will indicate how it may be possible for them to regain their self-esteem through help offered by professionals such as family consultants and psychotherapists.
    See more on Sarah Hawker

    Born in Edinburgh (UK) in 1956, I grew up travelling extensively, initially with my parents, as my father was in the Air Force, and later on my own. I was educated in the UK.
    Travelling and living abroad from a young age has given me the possibility to learn about foreign cultures, habits and religions while also learning several other languages. During this period, I began to develop my empathy as well as my listening and communicating skills.
    I have lived in Italy for 34 years. I am divorced and have two adult children.
    I began to train as a Family Consultant in 2003. I studied for four years in Rome at SICOF and was invited in 2007 to become part of the ‘Centro La Famiglia’ as part of their team of psychotherapists and a Family Consultant.
    In 2018 I became a member of the board of directors of AICCeF (The Italian Association of Family and Marriage Consultants).
    I decided early on to specialise as a Family Consultant in helping my clients reconstruct their self-esteem. I have developed several theories including ‘The theory of the armchair’, which shows my clients that they have the right to occupy a space that is only theirs, which no one and nothing should take away. This work has been particularly useful during the COVID-19 pandemic, as many people have lost their self-esteem and are struggling to find their unique space, which has been suddenly and tragically removed.

Timings: 05:00pm GMT/UTC

San Francisco: 09.00am  |  Boston: 12.00pm  |  London: 05,00pm  |  Berlin, Rome: 06.00pm |  Johannesburg: 07.00pm  |

Hong Kong: 01.00am (09 Nov.!)  |  Melbourne, Sydney: 04.00am (09 Nov.!)

Session 2: Monday, 15 November 2021 at 5pm GMT/UTC

Domestic violence: The pandemic inside the pandemic

  • Beverly Upton, San Francisco, USA: Gender-Based Violence: The Pandemic inside the Pandemic: The View from San Francisco
    Details on the input
    This input offers to share an approach adopted in San Francisco to meet the needs of survivors of domestic violence, their children and the advocates and attorneys that serve them during the COVID-19 pandemic. I will outline San Francisco’s response to this life-changing ‘pandemic inside the pandemic’, through the Department of Public Health, the Department on the Status of Women, the Mayor’s Office and the Board of Supervisors.How did the local government respond to the needs of the non-profits providing direct services to survivors of domestic violence and their children? How did domestic violence/gender-based violence (GBV) organizations that provide residential shel-ter, crisis lines and legal services ‘pivot’ to meet the changing needs of the community and survivors? What services and precautions could be adopted to meet the needs of children and keep them safe?We will review how domestic violence emergency shelters stayed open, the role of the 24-hour crisis lines, legal services and trusted community-based agencies and how they met the needs of a diverse city, speaking many languages, with a range of issues: domestic violence/GBV, food insecurity, rental assistance needs, quarantine hotels and more. The role of technology was vital. This will be a story of crisis, survival and resilience.
    See more on Beverly Upton

    Beverly is the Executive Director of San Francisco Domestic Violence Consortium, a 17-member consortium of domestic violence organizations committed to effective direct services and public policy.She is a strong advocate for working in collaboration with shelters, legal service providers and public policy agencies regarding sound integrated policies that close gaps and provide the best possible outcomes for battered women and their children. She is a founding co-chair of the San Francisco Family Violence Council and has presented the council’s work at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women’s 63rd session as a delegate joining an international audience.She has worked on numerous pieces of local, state and federal legislation.Beverly was honoured to serve on the transition teams of both (then District Attorney)
    US Vice President, Kamala D. Harris, and San Francisco Mayor, London Breed.With a background in business and design, she joined the campaign for the human rights of garment workers in the 1980s. Before finding her “calling” in the movement to end domestic violence, Beverly worked with manufacturers in the US and India to formalize codes of conduct for garment producers.As a survivor of domestic violence, she is honoured to bring both her experience in the struggle for human rights and her commitment to ending family violence to the movement for social change.
  • Imelda Diouf, Johannesburg, South Africa: Gender-based Violence (GBV) – A Pandemic within a Pandemic: A South African Perspective
    Details on the input
    South Africa is the Rainbow Nation, where for many families there is a loving place and space. But a family can also be a dangerous space.• 58 people are murdered every day, at a rate of 35.8 people per 100,000 population
    • One in three women will be raped at some time in her lifetime
    • More than half of all the women murdered were killed by an intimate male partner
    • 80% of male youth deaths are drug/alcohol-related
    • 55% of the population of 58 million live in poverty
    • 25% of the population live in indigent households, dependent on social grants
    • Unemployment is now 47% and rising – among youth up to 85% in some areas
    • Only 3–5% of the health budget is spent on mental health
    • Nearly 50% of children entering grade 1 drop out before grade 12
    • And corruption is on the rise …
    • … NGOs are collapsingVictims and perpetrators. They are our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters. What has happened to the Rainbow Nation?
    The White Paper on Families in South Africa (2013) seeks to “Improve the capacities of families and their members to establish social interactions which make a meaningful contribution towards a sense of community, social cohesion and national solidarity”.On 4th February 2021, President Ramaphosa launched a private sector-led, multi-sectoral Gender-Based Violence and Femicide (GBVF) Response Fund aimed at supporting the implementation of the National Strategic Plan (NSP) and the wider GBVF response in the country. The NSP includes six pillars, namely: accountability, coordination and leadership; prevention and rebuilding social cohesion; justice, safety and protection; response, care, support and healing; economic power; and research and information management.
    BIG PLANS! But what is really happening at the local government level? What support is available to households and families?
    Is all of this just a case of “Somewhere over the rainbow …”?
    See more on Imelda Diouf

    Imelda Diouf is a teacher, development practitioner, volunteer, researcher and writer. She is active as a strategic manager in the areas of human rights and sustainable development, with a particular focus on vulnerable groups within the context of family. Having 40 years of service with civil society and all spheres of government, she is well versed in the political and socio-economic dynamics of South African society.She is a member of the National Family Services Forum. Because of the need for better data collection and analytics to support pro-family government services to families, she became one of the founding members of the Centre for Family Studies. This fledgling registered non-profit organisation focuses on building healthy families and communities through its platform dedicated to advancing a family agenda. This is in line with the government of the Republic of South Africa, which has prioritised family strengthening within its National Development Plan 2030: Our Future – make it work.As a mother of a young man who has multiple disabilities, she has had personal experience of the challenges faced by many families when interacting with health services, courts, police and prisons. She advocates for family strengthening through cohesion, capabilities and resilience as key stability factors within households and communities.

Timings: 05:00pm GMT/UTC

San Francisco: 09.00am  |  Boston: 12.00pm  |  London: 05.00pm  |  Berlin, Rome: 06.00pm |  Johannesburg: 07.00pm  |
Hong Kong: 01.00am (16 Nov.!)  |  Melbourne, Sydney: 16 Nov (!)

Session 3: Monday, 22 November 2021 at 12pm GMT/UTC

The impact of the Covid pandemic on the family law court system

  • Caroline Harnois, Quebec, Canada: The Impact of the Pandemic in “La Belle Province”
    Details on the input
    The Province of Quebec has adopted the most restrictive measures in North America to fight the COVID-19 Pandemic. Such measures have varied from time to time since March 2020 but have included the closure of schools, businesses and courts, intraprovincial travel restrictions and mandatory quarantine, confinement, curfews and the prohibition of private gatherings, in addition to interprovincial and international travel restrictions imposed by the federal government.Despite generous financial aid granted by both the provincial and federal governments, the pandemic also exposed gaps in our social safety net. After reviewing the situation in more detail, this workshop will focus on how the pandemic and the measures in place in Quebec impacted on children, families and family lawyers’ daily life in three main areas, namely:• Challenges including domestic violence and mental health issues, and Quebec’s/Canada’s answer to them;
    • International and interprovincial custody and access arrangements, given the closing of borders, travel limitations and mandatory quarantine;
    • Family lawyers’ daily work and the court system and whether virtual hearings are here to stay.
    See more on Caroline Harnois
    Caroline Harnois is a member of the Family law, Personal law and Estate law team at Lavery Lawyers in Quebec, Canada. Her practice is focused on all aspects of family and estate law, which comprises private international family law, including international child abduction.

    Before joining the firm, Ms. Harnois worked as a lawyer with the Children, Person and Family Law team at The Hague Conference on Private International Law in the Netherlands, where she developed an expertise in extraterritorial conflicts and the application of international conventions, in particular regarding international child abduction, recovery of maintenance abroad, intercountry adoption and international protection of children and vulnerable adults.

    Ms. Harnois also practised in the public international law field at the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons in The Hague.

    Ms. Harnois has written several articles on family law, including La Convention de La Haye du 25 octobre 1980 sur l’enlèvement international d’enfants : la nécessité d’agir de façon rapide et efficace and Débiteurs alimentaires récalcitrants à vos gardes, la planète rétrécit, published in Les Développement récents en droit familial in 2008 and 2010, respectively.

    Caroline Harnois has been listed among The Best Lawyers in Canada in the Field of Family Law since 2017 and The Best Lawyers in Canada in the Field of Family Law Mediation and Trusts and Estates since 2021.

  • Catherine Por, Hong Kong
    See more on Catherine Por

    Catherine was admitted to practise as a solicitor in England and Wales in 1983 and in Hong Kong in 1991. She joined the firm of Stevenson, Wong & Co. in 1999. Catherine heads the Private Client Practice in the firm. She specialises in all aspects of family law disputes, and has extensive experience in complex financial claims, intervener proceedings, financial claims under Part IIA of the Matrimonial Proceedings and Property Ordinance (Chapter 192), child abduction cases, relocation of children cases, claims under the Guardianship of Minors Ordinance (Chapter 13), custody cases and pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements.She also handles a variety of contentious and non-contentious trust cases and contentious estate matters, cross-border issues and enforcement proceedings. She has provided expert legal opinions on Hong Kong Family Law.Catherine is an Accredited General and Family Mediator, Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, a Notary Public and a Civil Celebrant of Marriages.Her legal specialisations are: Family Litigation, Probate and Estate Disputes.

Timings: 12.00pm GMT/UTC

San Francisco: 04.00am  |  Boston, Quebec: 07.00am  |  London: 12.00pm  |  Berlin, Rome: 01.00pm  |  Johannesburg: 02.00pm  |
Hong Kong: 08.00pm  |  Melbourne, Sydney: 11.00pm

Dinner in Boston, MA (USA): Friday, 22 October 2021

Keynote speaker: John D. Casey, Chief Judge of the Massachusetts Probate and Family Court
See more on John D. Casey

HON. JOHN D. CASEY is the Chief Justice of the Probate and Family Court Department. Previously, he was an Associate Justice and then First Justice of the Norfolk Probate and Family Court and was also an Associate Justice of the Essex Probate and Family Court. He served as a member of the Commission on Judicial Conduct, 2025 Transition Leadership Team, mentored new judges and served as a panelist on numerous events for the MBA, BBA, MCLE and local bar associations. In 2014, He received the Bar Association of Norfolk County Person of the Year Award. For 23 years, he was a partner in the Attleboro Law Firm of Casey and Thompson, P.C. where he specialized in family law and criminal defense. Hon. Casey co-teaches the MCLE Family Law Trial Advocacy program. He received his undergraduate degree from Bates College and his J.D. from Suffolk University Law School in 1982.

Registration: Please register here.