If I go to counseling, are my conversations with the counselor confidential?

Generally, your communications with a physician or therapist are protected by the doctor – patient privilege. In some cases, however, a party waives this privilege by consenting to disclosure of medical records or by placing his or her treatment into issue in the divorce case, making the records discoverable. Some difficult issues in this area arise when a client waives a doctor-patient privilege as to one treating physician but not as to others and the opponent attempts to seek disclosure of all treating professionals. Parties to a divorce will need legal counsel to determine the best approach to navigate in this area.

It is also common to have court-ordered psychiatric examinations of an entire family. These are usually in high-conflict situations and the evaluator’s report and recommendation are reviewed by the attorneys and the court.

There are also statutory exceptions to the confidential nature of your medical records. For example, a health care professional has a statutory obligation to disclose evidence of physical abuse to the proper authorities and this duty supersedes any confidentiality.