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Can therapy records be used in divorce?

On Behalf of | Nov 29, 2021 | Divorce

Psychologists have confusion over whether to hand over therapy records during divorce in Bartlett, Tennessee. Psychologists want to know if requests mandate disclosure and which records need disclosure. Requests for therapy records during divorce are common and need to consider state and federal law.

Court orders

During a divorce, the court can order the release of patient information. A court order is the easiest way to get patient information and compels disclosure of the records. A court works within the law when asking for disclosure of clients’ records for a trial. A psychologist can disagree with the court’s decision, but it’s not up to them.

The scope of the court’s order dictates which materials when handing over reports. Some orders ask for a specific material, and others mandate full disclosure of patient records. A psychologist has material that only qualified people can read and must tell the court about the absences. If a judge asks for privileged material, the psychologist should comply. A psychologist that thinks a court order breaks the law can tell the court but still needs to comply.

Subpoena process

During a divorce case, the court can use subpoenas to ask for patients’ therapy records. There are different types of subpoenas, but a deposition subpoena asks for the patient’s chart. A psychologist usually needs legal representation during a deposition to protect themself and the patient’s rights. The legal teams know the law and determine what’s appropriate for disclosure. A malpractice insurance carrier can help professionals understand their options after a subpoena.

A subpoena doesn’t usually ask for privileged information but gives the court authority over the records. Most states don’t accept court subpoenas for therapy records without the patient’s consent, but these subpoenas do get a response. The courts can intimidate a psychologist that isn’t complying with a subpoena. The law usually protects professionals and client records. If the divorce results depend on a patient’s mental health, the court is in the right.

There is a time and place for therapy records in court. During a divorce, therapy records may be necessary. If a psychologist is on the stand, they should defend their client’s privacy. The judge can decide on what therapy records to allow. All decisions in court need to take the clients’ rights, state law and federal law into consideration.

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