Are Medical Records Confidential in an Arizona Divorce Case?
Are medical records confidential in divorce proceedings in Arizona? So, in Arizona, the law does allow for medical records to be compelled via subpoena in four ways. One is if a patient authorizes it. Two, if a judge issues the subpoena through court. Three, in a grand jury proceeding, if it involves some criminal matter. And then four, if it’s a regulatory healthcare board like the medical board or nursing board, for instance. Now, when it comes to divorces, why would one party want the medical records of the other party? Well, there could be several reasons. Most of the time, it involves determining the level of spousal support. If one side is saying, due to all these medical conditions, the spousal support needs to be raised to this amount, then the other side is going to want to say we need to see the diagnosis, the medical records, all the expenses involved to justify providing that amount of support.
Now, most of the time, obviously, in many divorce proceedings, that’s contentious. And one side is not just going to freely give up their medical records to the other side. What would normally happen is the opposing counsel, assuming both parties are represented by an attorney, one attorney will say, hey, we’d like your medical records. And then they’ll ask nicely, and the other side will say, buzz off, we’re not giving them to you. And that attorney will then go to the judge and then ask the judge to issue a subpoena to compel the production of those medical records so they can get to them. Now, both attorneys can fight over whether the medical records are necessary or not, and they can make the arguments to the judge, and the judge can decide. Now, even if the judge says yes, you must give up your medical records, the next thing will be to determine whether they should be confidential or not.
Medical Records Can be Kept Confidential
Obviously, they should be held confidentially. And if your medical records are going to have to be given to the other side, then you need to make certain that your attorney is arguing to the judge that they need to be kept under seal or confidential. In that way, they can’t be disseminated or even discussed in open court, potentially in any way. So, your personal medical records are confidential to the extent that you don’t have to give them up freely unless you receive a valid and enforceable medical records subpoena from one of those four sources that I said. Many people, when I speak to them, say, well, doesn’t HIPAA protect my medical records? In short, not in this circumstance.
If a medical records subpoena is issued to you through a valid source, so through the court, there is no objection to using HIPAA. I think most people don’t understand what HIPAA is, they just say it usually incorrectly. Even if you’ve received the medical record subpoena, you cannot hide behind HIPAA; that’s not going to help anything. And you’re probably going to look silly making that argument in the first place. Now, can they be kept confidential? Certainly, if your attorney argues to the judge that they need to be kept confidential, then the judge can issue an order stating they will stay that way, meaning they can’t be disseminated to any other parties or individuals involved. So, your medical court records should be kept confidential, but you may have to make that argument to the judge involved in your divorce case. Most people find it an enormous breach of privacy to have to give up their medical records to the other side.
And I guess, specifically involving mental health records. If you were seeing a licensed professional counselor, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or anything involving mental health, most people expect that when they speak to their therapist or their psychiatrist or whoever, it will be kept in confidence, and no one will have access to those records. However, the other party can get them if they’re obtained via a medical record subpoena that was submitted through the court. So, take that into account.
Can Medical Records be Subpoenaed for Divorce Cases in Arizona?
As discussed above, the constitution protects every American citizen and gives them the right to confidentiality, especially regarding medical documents. This means such individuals have the right to deny any party their medical information to prevent infringement of personal and private life. However, there are some instances where an Arizona court will medical records:
If Your Case Involves Custody
In most cases, divorcing parents don’t agree on child custody aspects. There’s a higher chance that every party will want to have the right to child custody. In such a case, the court will demand medical records from each party for determination. Only the parent in the right state of mind and who can make the most appropriate decisions regarding the child’s interests will be given custody by the court.
Spousal Maintenance Demands
In divorce cases, some parties request spousal maintenance from the other party. This has always been a common issue of contention that has made divorce cases challenging. The court may demand documented medical records for determination in such a case. You must prove incapacitated to qualify for alimony through certified medical records.
Arizona Medical Records Subpoena in Arizona Civil Actions
Traditionally, courts have requested documents from various parties involved in a criminal or civil case to guide their decision. Therefore, this is not a new trend that should surprise you when you receive a subpoena regarding various documents. Instead, you should ensure that you have the necessary information that guides you on how you need to react when you receive such a request.
As you’ll discover, the aspect of a subpoena does not only cut across a few sectors in Arizona. This is a common legal aspect that is usually witnessed across all industries. Therefore, regardless of the industry where you’re currently working, you should expect to come across such orders that require you to behave in a certain way. But first, it’s essential to have a basic understanding of medical subpoenas.
What is a Medical Subpoena?
A medical subpoena is an official and a written order from an attorney or a court that requires medical professionals or individuals to attend a court proceeding and provide certain medical documents in a court of law. Usually, it’s the responsibility of medical professionals to ensure that they provide all the necessary medical records to the court as demanded. Usually, the medical records presented to act as evidence in:
- Personal injury cases
- Medical Malpractice
- Workers’ compensation, among other legal issues
A Lawyer Can Help with the Legal Matters
As you can see, medical records consist of some confidential records in Arizona and across the country. This means you have the absolute right to determine who can access such records. However, there are some instances where you might be required to present such documents to a court for determination. You need an experienced attorney who can protect your right.
At Chelle Law, we understand your rights regarding the privacy and confidentiality of medical records. We will help you to protect your right from infringement and any prejudice you’re likely to face. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.