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Can a childs medical records be used in court?

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi. I am trying to help a cousin who is going through a difficult custody/visitation battle. The daughter is in elementary school. Her parents have been divorced for 3-4 years. Her mother has reported that daughter is being seen by a therapist and has other mental health issues that are related to her father not being part of her daily life. She is continually doing things to harm my cousins relationship with his daughter which he will be able to prove some in court. My real question is can those records from the childs sessions with her counselor be used in anyway? My cousin suspects that the counselor didn't side as heavily with the mother as she says and since the mother has made this accusation already in an affidavit can they be used? The mother has refused (against the divorce agreement) to give the names of any of daughters HCPs to childs father. If any such records can be used, how would it be done? My cousin is doing this without a lawyer so specifics would be appreciated.

I do realize that these records may not contain what my cousin is looking for, but I think he would rather risk it because the claims the biomom is making about all this are pretty far-fetched.

TIA!
post #2 of 13
In my experience, medical records, physical treatment ones, can be used in court. I don't know about psychological ones, though. Those might be protected by confidentiality rules.
post #3 of 13
I know in Louisiana they CAN be used.
post #4 of 13
Yes they can be used ,
She would have to subpoena for the records to be released and also prove why those records are relevant to the case at hand.
It is usually the judge makes the final decision whether or not the records are to be released .

Once that is done the records can be reviewed by both parties within the judges chambers or within a closed courts .
post #5 of 13
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sagesgirl View Post
In my experience, medical records, physical treatment ones, can be used in court. I don't know about psychological ones, though. Those might be protected by confidentiality rules.
In this day and age nothing is 100% confidential .
post #6 of 13
med records are definitely available to be used in court.

I think it depends on the judge for counselling records. I think it is kind of rude to demand exact accountings of what a child is talking about in sessions as it may tend to prevent needed counselling from taking place, in the short or long term.

Most children who are over a certain age appreciate privacy and supeonaing counselor records could back-fire.
post #7 of 13
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by azfiresmbm View Post
Yes they can be used ,
She would have to subpoena for the records to be released and also prove why those records are relevant to the case at hand.
It is usually the judge makes the final decision whether or not the records are to be released .

Once that is done the records can be reviewed by both parties within the judges chambers or within a closed courts .
Thank you. Can an individual file paperwork to subpeona records? As I said, he is doing this without a lawyer. So if the records are subpeona'd on the day of trail would the records be there and it would just be up to the judge to use them or not?

Quote:
Originally Posted by pranamama View Post
med records are definitely available to be used in court.

I think it depends on the judge for counselling records. I think it is kind of rude to demand exact accountings of what a child is talking about in sessions as it may tend to prevent needed counselling from taking place, in the short or long term.

Most children who are over a certain age appreciate privacy and supeonaing counselor records could back-fire.
This is a great concern. Said child is 7-8. Childs mother has claimed to have child in counseling for over a year, but refuses to let childs father know who the care provider is. They have joint custody and mother is primary. I don't know alot of the legal system, but I am guessing if cousin files to subpeona the childs health records, then because he doesn't know the childs HCP, the childs mother will then be informed of this action. Childs mother is not a reasonable person about this right now so she will and hate childs father even more. I know the father does not want the child to suffer and knows that the child needs an outlet. Childs mother is in a marriage that has been violent enough that the police were called out to her home. Arguments are often heard in the background during fathers calls to daughter. Child speaks to father about anger and fights. I can totally see childs mother stopping counseling if she knew the records would be subpeona'd. I really believe childs nightmares and other issues are related more to her current environment than the separation from her father. I think the separation from her father just adds to the anxiety.

Would you subpeona childs records in this case? I don't know if child is currently in counseling with regularity, but if so, it is possible mother would not continue such arrangements. My cousin realizes that him becoming childs primary custodial parent is not highly likely, but childs mother is making serious false accusations (attempted kidnapping) and my cousin is eager to show the court that most of her case is based on simple untruths and the childs mothers extreme dislike for childs father. (This sounds irrelevant, except that if the counseling records show that what mother claims to be the issue and what the counselor has observed are two different things she will lose much credibility.) So the hope is to subpeona childs health records so cousin can know what is truly upsetting to his daughter. He also wants to subpeona police records regarding DV calls at daughters residence. Can that be done too?
post #8 of 13
I have no idea about the legalaties involved, but I don't think medical records can be obtained so quickly. The doctor's office needs time to prepare copies and mail/fax them which can take some time. He'll probably also have to pay for them which can cost anywhere from free to over $2 per page.

Also, some therapists will not prepare any sort of statement for the court unless they were aware that it might have been necessary from the beginning. They would still have to release any records but those records may not be very complete.

I sort of think he's going about this all wrong. He should be petitioning the court for the release of all the child's medical providers and school info. The mom would then have to provide the names and addresses. I don't really know but I am pretty certain I'd be begging and borrowing to retain an attorney for this. Even if it's only to consult and not go to court with him.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Sunflowers - Thanks for the insight. I hadn't thought of that, the petitioning the court thing. So I'll suggest that. I know that my cousin would love to get an attorney. They are so expensive, but I came across some information about hiring a lawyer with unbundled services or limited representation? Is anyone familiar with this or actually found a lawyer willing to do so? Is the court appearance the most important time consuming event that you would need the lawyer for? I'm not familiar with the courts, but I'd think even a novice like me could fill out paperwork and send it out. I know they do more, but this idea is exciting to me.
post #10 of 13
If he has Joint legal then ALL records should be available to him .
She is probably in contempt of court right now..
If she is withholding information the judge is not going to be happy with her .
Document Document Document , all attempts to get child's medical information.

He can put in a request for the medical/therapy records either before the court date or in front of the judge.
The judge will more then likely recess and have them comeback in a few weeks when the papers are sent to the court .
If she fails to get them released to him She could be held in contempt .

Really if he is not going to get an attorney at least go to
http://forum.freeadvice.com/

The lawyers and judges on this site are a bit nasty but they will give you legal advise for free..
post #11 of 13
I'm in agreement with the PP: he should write to his ex-wife's lawyer, if that is who handled the divorce, or else directly to her, asking for the details of all of his child's current care providers. Include school, dentist, opthalmologist, etc. and also all extra-curricular activities. Send it registered, so that he has proof that she received it. If this does not bring a response then he can go for contempt of court, and the clerks at the courthouse can tell him how to do that.
At that point, I'd suggest that he rings the therapist, introduces himself, tells her what his ex-wife has said and takes it from there. He may not need to sub-poena anything- the danger is that his ex may choose to withdraw his daughter from therapy out of stroppiness and embarrassment, at which case he could potentially make a case for neglect.
post #12 of 13
Yes you can provide
post #13 of 13
In my case, we sent a subpeona to the therapist. Then you can ask what you want to know, HOWEVER I would definitely talk to the person before hand and find out a general idea of how they would respond to his questions.

Also, he needs to file contempt of court charges on top of whatever he has already filed. Even in sole custody cases (such as mine) I am legally required to tell my ex when my children have dr appointments and whom they are seeing and why. He then has the right to review any records. They can do the contempt issue when they are already in court on the other stuff. And once he does that, it might prompt her to give him the information.

This is my experience anyway. Good luck to him.
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