Court ruling allows spouse’s mental records revealed in custody, support cases

Ohio

The court said that by law the trial court must consider the mental and physical conditions of parents and spouses

Credit: boonchai wedmakawant/Moment/Getty Images

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WKBN) – The Ohio Supreme Court ruled this week that confidential mental health records of spouses can be obtained in cases involving custody and spousal support.

The divided court supported an appeals court decision saying that a parent seeking child custody or a spouse seeking support waives the physician-patient confidentiality privilege.

The court said by law, the trial court must consider the mental and physical conditions of parents and spouses when considering custody payments.

The decision upholds a Lake County Domestic Relations Court decision which allowed a husband to obtain the mental health records of his wife from the Cleveland Psychoanalytic Center.

Writing the Court’s lead opinion, Justice Judith L. French explained the confidentiality privilege applies to a psychologist’s or psychiatrist’s patient relationship, but Ohio law allows for a narrow exception that can compel a mental health provider to produce the records, which the trial court reviews privately before determining if they can be used in the divorce proceedings.

In disagreement, one judge wrote that the confidentiality waiver is too broad.

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