Can Medical and Therapy Records be Used in a Virginia Divorce?
Privacy is one of the biggest concerns during a divorce or custody case, and those concerns certainly extend to what information your soon-to-be ex can obtain in regard to medical and mental health records. Medical and therapy records are filled with sensitive, private, and in some cases, potentially embarrassing information that no one wants to share, especially with lawyers, judges, and other legal professionals.
The other side typically goes after medical and/or mental health records for a couple of reasons. One is to prove that the other spouse has a mental problem or illness that interferes with their capability to take care of a child. In some cases, an attorney hopes to subpoena records to show the other spouse committed adultery. Maybe a spouse cheated and admitted it to their therapist, or they see a doctor for concerns regarding STDs, etc.
It’s not uncommon for divorce attorneys to request the records from treating physicians and/or therapists, but the responding spouse needs a good Virginia family law attorney to make sure a motion to quash the subpoena is filed (if there is a basis for one) with the applicable court. Every scenario is different and can have a completely different outcome based on those factors.
Medical Records and Divorce Proceedings
In general, courts take patient confidentiality very seriously and mental health records may or may not be allowed in, which is one reason why retaining an attorney is so important. Generally, mental health records are going to be admissible in cases involving custody and support. In the event your records are allowed in, there are some ways you can still try to protect your privacy as much as possible.
In the event the other side prevails in their request to get records admitted, try to minimize what is being released. You can file for a protective order to keep the records from being disclosed, or at least keep their visibility limited. You may try for a confidentiality order that includes special provisions on who can view the records, prevents them from being filed with the court except under seal, ensures the original documents are returned to the other spouse, and specifies limits on what can be copied. Another option is to try and obtain the records first and redact what is not relevant in the current action if the court allows.
Retaining a Virginia Family Law Attorney
While you may not like the idea of having your private medical records allowed in during your divorce or child custody case, there are times where it can work in your favor. If you’re preparing for a divorce or have questions on when patient confidentiality applies, contact a skilled Leesburg divorce attorney. The attorneys at Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC have decades of experience with all aspects of family law matters. Contact us online or call our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.