Family Law Prof Blog

Editor: Margaret Ryznar
Indiana University
Robert H. McKinney School of Law

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

A child's mental health records may be open to parties in custody battle even if doctor objects

From Richard A. Mann writing for

The Indiana Court of Appeals in Meridian Health Services Corporation v. Thomas Martin Bell just ruled that a provision of Indiana Law that allows a mental health professional to deny the patient access to his or her records does not apply to a parent obtaining those records.

This was a custody and parenting time case where Father was seeking access to the child’s mental health records. The counselor in this case obtained a letter from a medical doctor stating that it was “medically necessary that the records of [the child's] therapy sessions not be released to her parents.” The doctor and counselor took the position that I.C. 16-39-2-4 prevented the release of the records based upon the providers’ opinions.

The counselor failed to appear at a deposition and produce the records as Meridian Health had filed a motion to quash the subpoena 3 days before the deposition. The court had not yet ruled on the motion to quash. Father filed a motion for rule to show cause and the court held a hearing on all pending motions. The court denied Meridian's motion to quash and for a protective order and father subpoenaed the counselor for deposition again. The counselor again failed to appear at the deposition with the records and Meridian then filed the records with the court and asked the court to hold them under seal pursuant to Indiana Administrative Rule 9(G)(2). Importantly, the physician supporting the refusal to release the records testified that it was the "standard position of pediatricians" that the child’s words should be protected when there was conflict between the child’s parents. The trial court ordered that the attorneys could review the records in camera but subsequently ordered that the counsel could copy the records.

Read more here.

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