What would it take to subpoena medical records (psycho-therapy) in a divorce case?

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What would it take to subpoena medical records (psycho-therapy) in a divorce case?

I’ve found some information at the house since my husband left that indicates he may be bipolar. It’s a medical questionnaire asking about the drugs they are currently on and it is checked yes for “bipolar/behavior disorder” It is the carbon copy of the original, I would like to introduce it into court for custody purposes. Would I be able to subpoena the hospital’s copy so he can’t say I checked it?Also, I was told since he left it, he has no right to an expectation of privacy? Is this true?

Asked on June 1, 2009 under Family Law, California

Answers:

B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

I'm not a California lawyer, but my guess would be that if he's moved out, and left that piece of paper behind, it's fair game, not protected by an expectation of privacy.  You would need to discuss this, and the rest of your case with an attorney in your area, give him or her all of the facts, for reliable advice.  One place to find a lawyer is our website, http://attorneypages.com

Whether or not you'd be able to subpoena the hospital records would depend on whether your husband's illness was a material issue in your divorce.  While I'm sure it had a substantial effect on your relationship, it might not make a practical difference in the legal issues that go into ending your marriage.

J.M.A., Member in Good Standing of the Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Are you represented by a lawyer?  If not, then you should go to the clerk's office at the court and have them help you fill out the subpoena.  You should be entitled to the records if they bear on your husband's ability to take care of the kids.  After all, the court is going to do what is in the children's best interest.  These records may be subject to confidentiality if they included doctor patient communications, however, the records themselves of the diagnosis should be discoverable.


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