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.

Associated Organisations

Newport, Wales

ICCFR Conference 2023

Newport, Wales

ICCFR Trustees

Douglas Alexiou

Douglas Alexiou (Chair) is a solicitor who has specialised in family law for more than 44 years. He was at Gordon Dadds for more than 30 years before Alexiou Fisher Philipps was set up in July 2001. He was senior partner until he retired from the partnership and became a consultant with effect from 1 April 2015. He was a founding fellow of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (IAML) and was President from 2000 to 2002 and before that was President of the European Chapter of the IAML from 1998 to 2000. He was Chairman from 1992 to 1996 of the London Regional Group of the Solicitors Family Law Association (now Resolution). He is a consultant editor of the Family Law Journal. Apart from the law, he was a director of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club from 1980 to 1998, including a period as Chairman.

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.

Anne Berger

Anne Berger (USA) is a partner in the Woburn, MA, law firm of Berger & Small (J.D.: Boston University School of Law). She has written and lectured extensively on family law and related issues. She was a council member of the Family Law Section of the Massachusetts Bar Association (MBA) from 1996 to 1999. She has been a Fellow of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1987 and of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers since 1997. Ms Berger is a past Massachusetts Chapter Delegate to the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and serves as a USA Chapter delegate to the Board of Governors of the International Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She is also on the Board of the AAML Foundation. Ms Berger was ICCFR chair 2014-2019.

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 (Vice-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 now acts as Chair of Council and Vice-Chair of the Trustees for 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.

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.