It’s a funny thing. When people get married they share everything. They share dreams; they share expenses; they share kids; they share religious experiences.
Then divorce happens, and the sharing goes away.
Only problem is: sometimes, you still have to share.
When Do I Have to Share Medical, Psychological, and other Records?
The general rule about sharing medical records, psychological records, psychiatric records, and other records that would normally be privileged, is this: if it’s relevant to a claim or issue in the case, then you have to share.
Let’s see how that rule pans out.
Example 1: couple has no children, no assets, and there is no alimony claim. Only thing to do is divide debt, personal property (clothes, jewelry, etc.), and the marital home. Neither person has ever alleged that mental illness should play a part in any property division.
In this example, medical, psychological, and psychiatric records are not relevant. They have nothing to do with dividing up debt in this situation. So, if one person asked the other person for privileged documents, the person asked wouldn’t have to share them. They’re privileged, and without good reason, you can’t get to them.
Example 2: couple has twins, boy and a girl who are seven years old. Dad wants full custody because mom is disabled and, he says, physically incapable of caring for the children without assistance. Mom is also asking for full custody and says dad is physically and emotionally abusive, has committed domestic violence, and suffers from bipolar disorder for which he is being treated by a psychiatrist.
In this example, both parents are making claims about medical and psychiatric issues. Since both are making these claims, and the parents’ medical and mental health is pretty relevant to who should have these twins most of the time, each will very likely have to share medical and psychiatric records.
Example 3: couple has already divided all debts and assets, but they are arguing about alimony. Wife argues she is disabled because of severe and ongoing back problems that have necessitated multiple surgeries, and because of that disability she needs alimony. Husband says that she might be able to do manual labor and lift heavy things, but she could do clerical work, so she doesn’t need alimony.
In this example, Wife’s medical condition is an issue, and both have made claims about it. This mean Wife would very likely be required to share her medical records concerning her back, as well as everything surrounding her claims of medical disability.
What if my Spouse Says “No” and Refuses to Share Records?
I’ve had many a case in which I asked for therapy records or psychiatric records and the opposing side said “no” and refused to provide anything. (Usually someone refuses to share because he or she have something to hide, so we always go after those records).
When this happens, we have to file a motion with the court to force the other side to produce the documents. If the documents requested are relevant to the issues in the case, we’ll get them.