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Ohio Supreme Court Rules to Allow Mental Health Records in Custody, Support Cases

By July 5, 2020 July 24th, 2020 No Comments

In a significant ruling, the Ohio Supreme Court recently ruled that confidential mental health records of spouses can be obtained and revealed in cases involving custody and support.

The underlying argument that was upheld was that a parent seeking child custody or a spouse seeking support waives the patient-doctor confidentiality privilege. According to a WOWK report, trial courts must “consider the mental and physical conditions of parents and spouses when considering custody”.

Why Mental Health Could Matter in a Custody Proceeding

The lead Justice wrote that an exception in Ohio law can compel a mental health provider to produce the records and the court could review them in camera (i.e., privately) before deciding if they’re relevant to the divorce proceedings. Contested custody cases in Ohio are determined by what the court deems is in the “best interest” of the child and the mental health of the parties and children can be relevant to that decision.

What it means is that any mental health condition could become the touchstone of a larger argument for either spouse when determining child custody.

Current Health Considerations in Divorce & Support Proceedings

It’s possible that this new mental health stipulation could present a new set of conditions and illnesses to consider when discussing support options. Factors that can affect spousal support (known as alimony in some states) proceedings include age and other health issues. Child support can also be affected by the ruling because the health of the parties is sometimes relevant to their ability to earn income. In Ohio, child support payments are determined by the court calculating both parents’ gross incomes and combining them.

It’s important to consult a legal team that stays up to date on the latest developments and can advise you through the process.  Call Garretson & Holcomb, LLC today at (513) 863-6600 to speak with one of our trusted divorce or custody attorneys to understand the potential best outcome in your situation.