About ICCFR

About the organisation

ICCFR believes that stable, flourishing communities are based on thriving couple and family relations. The Commission dedicates itself to the advancement and worldwide dissemination of knowledge about such relationships and to activities promoting their well-being.

Established in 1953 as the IUFO Commission on Marriage and Marriage Guidance (subsequently: Commission on Marriage and Interpersonal Relations), the ICCFR adopted its present name in 2001 to make clear the focus of its work. It engages organisations and individuals involved in couple and family therapy, relationship education, social work, mediation, psychology and psychiatry, research, social policy, family courts and the law, and family organisations in a ground-breaking interdisciplinary dialogue about couple and family relations and the support provided for them by the professions.

Our annual international conferences and, lately, webinars have themes reflecting the current activities and concerns of the professions involved. Participants gain information on new thinking about couple and family relations, as well as opportunities to network with and learn from likeminded individuals. Conference publications, reports and papers are published on this website.

The conferences also promote collaboration with professionals and organisations worldwide. Conferences are normally held in a different part of the world each year, often co-hosted by a local organisation. About twenty countries are usually represented at these events.

Plenary keynote presentation sessions are complemented by numerous workshops addressing specific topics in more detail. Discussion groups are a distinctive feature of our conferences: here, participants engage in discussion about the theme of the conference and issues relating to their own special interests.

ICCFR is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation (CIO). The Trustees are responsible for the Commission’s purposes and agenda. The ICCFR Council, which includes all the Trustees, plans and manages the annual conferences and the Commission’s international communications.

Acknowledgements

Purpose

ICCFR’s main purpose is to enrich the knowledge of service providers and professionals in matters concerning relationships in couples and families in all their diversity.

ICCFR fulfils its purpose by facilitating wide-ranging discussion and learning on fundamental issues concerning family and couple relations and by organising and engaging in activities promoting their well-being.

ICCFR brings together an interdisciplinary, multicultural, non-denominational international network of organisations, individual professionals and other interested parties who are committed to continuous cooperation and dialogue in support of its purpose. Within the network are people from different countries and a variety of professional backgrounds, such as social science, family/couple counselling, law/legal matters, policy-makers, research, academia, education, faith and family politics.

Values

ICCFR exists to support families in all their diversity. We stand with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. We believe in:

  • Advocating for the enhancement of sustainable economic, social and cultural conditions for families in all their diversity
  • Facilitating forward-looking, creative and innovative debate that encompasses science, economics, legal and social matters, politics and culture
  • Safeguarding the interests of children and vulnerable family members
  • Respecting different sets of values and perspectives and advocating non-discrimination and equal opportunities among individuals and different family forms
  • Supporting intergenerational as well as intercultural engagement and understanding

Mission Statement

ICCFR promotes stable, flourishing communities based on thriving couple and family relations. The Commission is dedicated to the advancement and dissemination of knowledge about such relationships and to activities promoting their well-being. It is an international forum in which individuals and organisations engage in multidisciplinary dialogue and collaboration about the issues and challenges families experience in their relationships.

ICCFR Trustees

Claire Barnes

Claire Barnes (USA) holds dual Masters Degrees in Education. She worked as a public school teacher and administrator before transitioning into nonprofit administration. Her nonprofit work focused on community-based, educational programs designed to help marginalized adults and children improve their lives. In 2016, Claire published a handbook for grandparents whose adult children separate or divorce. The book, I’m Still Your Grandma; I’m Still Your Grandpa, focuses on the well-being of grandchildren when families reorganize. In recent years she has applied her education skills to adult education (ex: Career College Northern Nevada, University of Nevada, Reno, San Francisco State University, Diablo Valley Community College)..

Claire served on the Board of Governors of the San Francisco Symphony for seven years and is delighted to have returned to the ICCFR Board in 2019, having served previously from 2007 to 2014. Her exit in 2014 was timed with her retirement from Kids’ Turn, San Francisco, where she was Executive Director for thirteen years.

Sarah Hawker

Sarah Hawker Born and brought up in the UK, Sarah has travelled and lived in several countries around the world. In her early career, she worked in marketing in Milan. Motivated by a longstanding desire to help families, couples and adolescents struggling with mental health issues, Sarah moved into family and couples care in Rome in 2003. For nearly 20 years, she has been a Family Consultant, having trained at the Sicof Association (Italian Society for Philosophical Counselling) in Rome. In 2007, she was invited to be a team member of Centro La Familia, Rome. From 2009 to 2021, she owned and managed a small boutique hotel. In 2018, she was elected to the Board of AICCeF, the Italian National Association of Family and Marriage Consultants and in 2021, she was elected Vice-president. Since 2021, she has been a lecturer on Family Consultancy at the Ecclesia Mater University in Rome.

Gerlind Richards

Gerlind Richards MBE (Chair) (UK) was from 1978 until 2008 the Hon. General Secretary of the International Commission on Couple and Family Relations (ICCFR). She has a background in European literature (BA, UCL), lived and taught in several European countries; she first became involved in working for the Commission at its former umbrella organisation, the IUFO in Paris, in the late 1970s. In 2003 she was awarded the MBE for her work in international relations. She was instrumental in establishing the ICCFR Trust as a registered charity and was one of the three Founder Trustees. She has now taken on the role of Chair of the Trustees of the CIO which has replaced the ICCFR Trust.

Phil Richards

Phil Richards, FCA is the CFO of Corero plc, an AIM listed international cyber-security firm based in London with offices in Edinburgh and Marlborough, MA. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with KPMG for whom he worked for a number of years including at their offices in Munich and Stockholm, he has worked across a number of different industries in both London and Philadelphia, PA, culminating with his in current position.

His experience working with charities began after graduating from Nottingham University where he was elected a trustee of the Nottingham Students' Union.

He has been Treasurer of the CIO since its inception, having previously been the honorary treasurer for the ICCFR Trust. 

Anita Rodarte

Anita Rodarte For more than 30 years, Anita I. Rodarte has devoted her law practice to assisting clients in family law matters. Anita’s extensive experience includes negotiated settlement and litigation of cases involving complex asset valuation and division, spousal support, parenting and custody conflicts, interstate custody and child support disputes, guardianship of minors and enforcement of parental access and support issues. Anita is a member of numerous professional organizations relating to family law. She is a fellow in the prestigious American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) and President 2016-17 of the AAML Foundation, the charitable companion organisation to the AAML. Anita was honoured as the 2015 Family Law Practitioner of the Year in the Kansas City, Missouri area, has received peer recognition as one of Super Lawyers Top 50 Women Lawyers in Missouri and Kansas and is regularly listed in Best Lawyers in America in the field of Family. Anita is a frequent lecturer on family law topics.

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 a member of the Board of Directors of the National Counsel of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, being the only psychologist elected to that Board in the organization’s history. 

He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the International Commission on Couple and Family Relations, based in London, UK.  He serves on the editorial board of the Family Court Review, a refereed scholarly journal. He is also 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 Board of Directors of the Association of Family & Conciliation Courts and the former chair of the Board of Fellows of the National Center for Juvenile Justice.   

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.

Suzie S. Thorn

Suzie S. Thorn (USA) is a prominent matrimonial lawyer in San Francisco. She is President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation, of the Suzie S Thorn Family Foundation and of Schapiro-Thorn, Inc. Her initial contact with ICCFR resulted from liaison between the Commission and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in 1993. She became a Board member in 1995. She was the innovative founder of the ICCFR Trust, which has now been replaced by ICCFR CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation).

ICCFR Patrons

John Chambers OBE

John Chambers OBE (Scotland) was Chair of ICCFR from 1995 to 1998. He had been involved in ICCFR since 1990 and was responsible for co-hosting the 1992 ICCFR conference in Newcastle, Co. Down, Northern Ireland. At that time, he was Chief Executive of RELATE Northern Ireland and before that Chairman of the East Belfast Youth Council. He was also a minister in the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and from 1998 to 2009 was Minister of Ness Bank Church of Scotland, Inverness. John has been a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio and a lecturer at Aberdeen University.

Marie-Claire Foblets

Marie-Claire Foblets, Lic. Iur., Lic. Phil., Ph.D. Anthrop (Belgium) is professor of Law at the University of Leuven in Belgium and since 2012 the Director of the Department of Law and Anthropology at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology in Halle/Saale in Germany. She has held various visiting professorships both within and outside Europe.

Suzie S. Thorn

Suzie S. Thorn (USA) is a prominent matrimonial lawyer in San Francisco. She is President of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers Foundation, of the Suzie S Thorn Family Foundation and of Schapiro-Thorn, Inc. Her initial contact with ICCFR resulted from liaison between the Commission and Association of Family and Conciliation Courts in 1993. She became a Board member in 1995. She was the innovative founder of the ICCFR Trust, which has now been replaced by ICCFR CIO (Charitable Incorporated Organisation).

Sir Mathew Thorpe

The Rt. Hon. Sir Mathew Thorpe is a former Lord Justice of Appeal (England and Wales), Vice-President of the Family Division and the inaugural Head of International Family Law. He remains the leading expert in the field of the international movement of children.

Sabine Walper

Prof. Dr. Sabine Walper is Professor of Education and Youth Research at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University in Munich and since 2012 also Director of Research at the German Youth Institute DJI. She is a member of the Scientific Council for Family Issues of the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors, Women and Youth. She is Chair of the Scientific Council at the State Institute for Early Education, a member of the Commission for the Rights of Children at the Family Law Court of Germany, and President of the German League for the Child.