Some of the most private information about you is often contained in your medical records. However, medical records often become a contention in divorce. You may be asked to sign a release so the medical provider can produce your medical records to your spouse. The question then becomes whether the records are relevant to any issue in dispute.

If you are requesting spousal support and are claiming you cannot work because of your medical condition, then your medical records may be relevant to show whether your medical condition prohibits you from working. In such a case the Court will probably require you to sign a release so the medical provider can produce your records.

Similarly, if parenting time is in dispute and you or your spouse are claiming that a medical condition affects the ability to parent, then medical records may be relevant. If either parent has seen a counselor or is in therapy, mental health records may also be relevant.

Talk with your lawyer about your rights. There are a number of options that may be available to keep or prevent the disclosure of your information. If the records are not relevant to any issue and are just being requested to harass you, then your lawyer may be able to obtain a protective order so that the records do not have to be disclosed, or disclosure is limited. Even if the records are relevant to a pending issue, you can limit dissemination of the records by obtaining a confidentiality order.

In Arizona, a confidentiality order is available to restrict a party or person from disclosing information or documents to anyone outside the litigation. A party wishing to obtain a confidentiality order must either obtain a stipulation and agreement from the other party, or seek a court order. To obtain a confidentiality order from the Court, the Court requires a party requesting such an order to show “good cause.” Thus, you, or your attorney if you are represented, will need to present to the Court specific reasons why dissemination of the information should be limited.


About the Author:

Marlene Pontrelli is a Member in our Phoenix office. Marlene is a certified specialist in family law. Her practice focuses on all aspects of family law including dissolution, post-dissolution, paternity, child custody and child support matters. She is admitted to practice in California and Arizona. She is a member of the State Bar’s Family Law Practice and Procedure Committee and is a judge pro tem for the Superior Court of Maricopa County in family law. She has extensive trial and appellate experience including appearing before the Arizona Court of Appeals, Arizona Supreme Court and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Ms. Pontrelli has written several books, including as a co-author of the Divorce in Arizona book. She is a frequent lecturer in the area of family law and has conducted workshops throughout the country. Ms. Pontrelli is also an adjunct professor at The Sandra Day O’Connor School of Law at Arizona State University, where she teaches the family law class. Marlene may be reached in our Phoenix office at 602-285-5081.