Can Medical Records be Subpoenaed in Arizona Divorce Cases?
Can medical records be subpoenaed in divorce cases in Arizona? The short answer is yes if they are sent via the, I guess, statutorily approved way. So, there are four avenues for legitimate medical records subpoenas in Arizona. The first is from the patient. If a patient gives authorization for a healthcare provider to release their medical records via subpoena, then obviously, they must be sent. Now, in a divorce case, you’re trying to get the medical records of your spouse. In that case, you’d have to assume that the spouse is not just going to give authorization. So, the subpoena would be necessary. What would happen is, assuming you’re represented by an attorney, you would then probably send a letter to the opposing counsel saying, we want access to the medical records of the spouse. Why would you want the medical records?
Why are Medical Documents Needed in a Divorce Case?
If there’s some dispute as far as the amount of spousal support, and maybe they’re saying they need more due to medical conditions, and the other side wants the other side to prove it, that’s why the medical records may be important. If one side says, no, we’re not giving you consent; we’re not just going to give you the records, then the only other way that the subpoena can be issued is through court. The judge that’s overseeing the divorce would then have to issue the subpoena to the other side, compelling the production of the medical record. Now, there obviously can be some objections for several reasons. And if you’re in a divorce proceeding now and you have an attorney, then you absolutely need to talk to them about making objections if you do not want to give up your medical records.
And those arguments would then be made in front of the judge, and then the judge would determine whether to issue the subpoena or not. If the judge does say you’re going to have to give up your medical records, you also want to make certain that your attorney is then fighting to keep them confidential or under seal in some manner. That way, they can’t be used in any other manner beyond determining spousal support in some way. I guess the most likely reason that the other party wants them is to determine whether the level of spousal support is changed in a significant manner based on the health conditions of the other spouse.
Subpoenas Cannot be Objected to if they Came Through the Court
Now, as I said before, if you just get a letter from the opposing counsel saying, we want your medical records, you don’t have to comply with it, but if it comes through the court and then the three others are a licensing board, grand jury proceeding or if the patient authorizes it. It has to come from the court for you to have to give up your medical records. Now, some people will say, well, HIPAA. I find, as a healthcare attorney, most people don’t understand HIPAA and almost always use it incorrectly. HIPAA is not a shield when it comes to a medical record subpoena that’s validly submitted in Arizona. So, you can’t hide behind HIPAA. Obviously, you don’t want to give up your medical records. And so, the whole point of the subpoena is to compel the production of those records.
So yes, if you’re in a divorce proceeding, your medical records can be subpoenaed if it’s through the court, the judge allows it, and then no objections have been made by either side. And then, if the judge does force the other party to give up their medical records, then you need to make certain that your attorney is fighting to keep them confidential as well.
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
Are Medical Records Confidential in Arizona Divorce Cases?
As highlighted earlier, medical records are confidential and consistent with Arizona laws and other laws of the country. Traditionally, many clients have wondered whether they must provide their medical records to the court when involved in a divorce case.
Usually, many people believe that medical information should not be presented in a divorce case because it is personal, private, and possibly prejudicial. All these conditions hold, and it’s essential to indicate that there are multiple situations when you don’t have to give this information to your soon-to-be ex.
Therefore, if you have a simple divorce case that does not constitute some considerable information and other complex issues, you don’t have to provide any medical records. Multiple laws protect your condition and prevent you from being forced to present such documents.
What are the Legal Grounds for Subpoenaing Medical Records 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.
How Can a Lawyer Protect Your Medical Records?
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.