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 a new client and I are discussing the custody evaluation process during that parent’s first appointment, two of the most frequently asked questions are, “What will happen during the parent/child observation?” and, “Will you be doing a home visit?” These two questions and the anxiety in the parent’s voice are a sure sign that this particular parent has done some Internet research because parent/child observations and home visits are frequently mentioned on websites devoted to custody and family law evaluations. Parent/child observations refer to an evaluation technique where parents are seen jointly with their children, and they are observed performing a structured task of some sort (perhaps an arts and crafts project), or they are simply allowed to play and interact with each other in some unstructured fashion. Home visits are just that; the evaluator spends time in the family home to conduct interviews, see the residential setting, and perhaps conduct a parent/child observation. Custody evaluators frequently use these techniques as part of the overall evaluation process, although I have spoken to many other evaluators who believe as I do that the techniques are not particularly helpful.
Welcome to my office via this website! As a licensed psychologist I have been providing therapeutic and clinical services to children, adolescents, and families for over 30 years. These clinical services have also included a very large number of comprehensive evaluations designed to help divorcing couples settle their custody and parenting plan disputes and to make good decisions for their children during a time of family disruption. Custody and parenting plan evaluations are now the sole focus of my practice. In providing these evaluation services to parents since 1978, my 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.
My goal for this website is to provide you with some initial information that you might find helpful if you are considering a custody or parenting plan evaluation. I have also included some further information about my practice and some resource information regarding a broad range of family topics. Please feel free to contact me if you have further questions.
Robert J. Loveland, Ph.D.