Obtaining Your Partner’s Medical Information During Separation – A Case Study
If a spouse who is going through a separation is getting counselling support, they will usually prefer that process be kept private. In Family Court proceedings that privacy is difficult to achieve. In a recent case, a husband demanded that the wife disclose to him what psychologist she had seen.
The father requested that the court make orders providing for the mother to disclose the names of her medical practitioners, including GP, psychologists, psychiatrists or any other qualified professionals. The father wanted this information so he could issue subpoenas to these practitioners to obtain copies of the mother’s records.
The matter involved a young child. The mother’s case was that the child not spend any time with the father, claiming it would significantly impact her mental health, and therefore her capacity to care for herself and the child. The father agreed that the child should live predominately with the mother, however sought orders that provided for the child to ‘spend time’ with him.
The court considered the importance of the therapeutic relationship between the mother and her mental health professionals, however noted that the court needed facts in order to properly consider what orders were in a child’s best interests.
As it was part of the mother’s case that her mental health would be affected by the orders, the court determined that the father was entitled to properly challenge that assertion, by considering the evidence.
On that basis, the court ordered that the mother provide the father with details of her medical practitioners, and the father could then issue subpoenas to the relevant practitioners. Given the sensitive nature of the documentation, the court also made an order that the material only be inspected by the party’s legal representatives and the mother.
There is no one way to address separation and divorce procedures. What will be considered and why depends on your unique situation. Ensure you understand all the options and possible outcomes for your situation by obtaining professional legal advice. We offer fixed-fee initial consultation with one of our Family Law experts. Please call (07) 3221 4300 to arrange.