Please see About or Dr. Loveland’s resume for further information regarding his experience as a long term child and family therapist. His forensic experience since 1978 has largely involved child custody and parenting plan evaluations as well as court-ordered service as a parenting coordinator. Although these services are no longer provided in his retirement, these clinical services are explained below as they relate to Dr. Loveland’s current role as a forensic consultant or expert witness regarding psychological and family law matters.
Comprehensive Custody and Parenting Plan Evaluations
Many divorcing couples find a way to settle their divorce and to reach an agreement about their children’s living arrangement without any outside assistance beyond the help of their family law attorneys, who by and large are wonderfully child-friendly professionals. However, for very good reason, many divorcing couples are unable to do this on their own or with the help of their attorneys. In those cases the Court may ask for assistance from mental health professionals who are experienced in child development and divorce related issues. The Court frequently asks for assistance in cases involving chronic parental conflict, domestic violence, child abuse, drug and alcohol abuse, mental illness, intractable expectations of one parent or both parents, a parent’s desire to move elsewhere with the children, and any number of other family or parenting issues that do not fit easily into statutory parameters. When an evaluation is requested by the Court, an appropriate court order is signed. For Dr. Loveland to proceed, the court order or stipulated court order must be consistent with Dr. Loveland’s policies and procedures, which can be provided to family law attorneys upon request.
Custody and parenting plan evaluations involve a thorough assessment of the family system, the marital and parenting history, the individual characteristics and needs of all family members, and any other family issues that relate to the statute upon which the Court must make a decision. (In Oregon, ORS 107.137). In most cases, once an evaluation is complete, a recommendation is made to the Court regarding what custodial and parenting plan arrangement might be in the welfare and best interest of the children. In an overwhelming number of cases in which Dr. Loveland is involved, these evaluations result in a comfortable settlement that serves the children well. In the cases that must be litigated, the evaluation can serve as a valuable resource to the Court in resolving final divorce and custody issues.
While providing these evaluation services to parents since 1978, Dr. Loveland’s goals have always been:
- To provide recommendations that reflect the welfare and best interests of the children in a thorough and fair manner;
- To provide a comprehensive, balanced, and clinically sound evaluation;
- To remain as the evaluator in an “expert witness” role for the benefit of the children and not as an “advocate” for any one party seeking custody; and
- To treat each parent with the utmost respect regardless of whether or not the evaluation process ultimately supports his or her legal position.
In the post-divorce period, there are some parents who are unable to create and participate in a civil and comfortable co-parenting arrangement for their children’s benefit. These are typically labeled “high conflict” cases, and the entire mental health and family law field recognized for years that the Court is not the proper venue for achieving some modicum of peace within these families. In Oregon, the Court can order the appointment of a parenting coordinator who is empowered by the Court to assist the family in settling issues that would ordinarily result in pleadings for various modifications or taking an ex-spouse back to court for contempt of existing court orders. Parenting coordinators also assist with parent/child reunifications and/or cases where a parenting plan must be “phased in” for a child’s benefit. The Court retains final jurisdiction and authority, of course, but the use of a parenting coordinator can lead to an eventual truce that benefits the children and serves as a venue for settling any unforeseen issues in the parenting plan.