Doctor-Patient Confidentiality: Divorce, Child Custody & Your Medical History

Bergen County Divorce Attorneys with Offices in Hackensack, New Jersey

In custody decisions the best interests  of the child are of the utmost importance in New Jersey child custody litigation.  Occasionally, a parent’s mental health or medical history may be relevant in how child custody is decided.  A history of physical, sexual or mental abuse, from one parent against the other or child could have a negative impact on his or her ability to parent the former couple’s children, and a family court will often take this into account. In order to utilize such medical information, however, medical records must be obtained.

Discovery Process and Medical Records During Divorce

During the discovery process of a contentious divorce and child custody matter, each party may seek to have the other party produce documents and disclose certain medical or mental history facts. Frequently, a psychologist is engaged to evaluate both parents in order to make a custody recommendation to the family court.  Such recommendations are possible when psychologists obtain access to each party’s medical and mental health records.  At times, these records are necessary to confirm or refute the other parent’s claims.

Although this process may seem daunting, you can proceed with the confidence, support, and guidance of a team of legal professionals dedicated solely to resolving these issues in a way that suits your unique goals and priorities.

Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, with offices in Hackensack, Bergen County, is among the most experienced and well-reputed law firms in New Jersey. With three partners who are among the only 2 percent of lawyers recognized by the Supreme Court of New Jersey as a Certified Matrimonial Law Attorneys, our credentials speak to our experience, while our clients speak to our attentiveness and unwavering concern for their interests. With a practice dedicated solely to family law, we are equipped to handle the most complex and contentious matters, whether they involve child custody, child support, alimony, divorce, or domestic violence. It is our passion to provide unparalleled legal representation while attending to the needs of each client as an individual with unique needs and priorities.

We Understand You, We Are You

At Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark, our partners are more than just lawyers, they are parents. As such, we understand the profound sense of responsibility that comes with caring for your children and the deep need to protect them from harm. When you enlist our law firm, you find a group of lawyers with diverse backgrounds that span the spectrum of divorce resolution, including litigation, arbitration, mediation, and negotiation. We utilize our breath of experience to craft the most effective solutions for your divorce, ensuring that your primary concerns guide our strategic approach toward a desirable outcome.

To discuss your situation with one of our skilled divorce attorneys, contact our offices. We are always available to provide free consultations.

Can my mental health or physical disability hurt my child custody chances?

In cases where one party might claim a physical inability to work or that the other party is unfit do to previous drug or physical abuse, certain medical documents may be requested. However, not every spouse or parent is necessarily entitled to any and all medical documents.

Serious chronic medical problems may be relevant in child custody decisions, as this may impact whether he or she is a suitable custodian. If the medical condition is so serious as to prevent effective parental supervision, then it may restrict parenting options in a custody litigation.

When determining whether to compel disclosure of mental health records, New Jersey courts stated in Kozlov, 79 N.J. 232, 243-44, 398 A.2d 882 (1979), three “foundations” must be established by the party seeking to pierce the privilege:  (1) there must be a legitimate need for the evidence;  (2) the evidence must be relevant and material to the issue before the court;  and (3) by a fair preponderance of the evidence, the party must show that the information cannot be secured from any less intrusive source.

Contact our Hackensack, NJ divorce Law Firm for a Free Consultation

If you are facing a child custody dispute which may involve a parent’s mental or medical condition, it is extremely important that you have experienced, smart, and dedicated legal counsel to fight for your rights during the divorce process.  We have experience helping clients to understand how these sensitive topics relate to their child, and in presenting these issues to the court.

The Family Law practice at Townsend, Tomaio & Newmark is built upon the premise that by leveraging the resources of a large firm and maintaining the personalized approach of a small one, we can provide exceptional legal representation while developing supportive, sustainable client relationships. Listening to your unique needs and priorities, we move forward with your interests in mind and zealously advocate on your behalf to achieve a desirable resolution tailored for your future.

If you are considering a divorce, or are in the process of divorcing, contact us online today or through our Hackensack NJ offices at (866)-959-9455.

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