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Florida Court Explains the Discoverability of Health Records in Divorce Cases

While people do not typically think of divorce actions and a person’s health as being related, a party’s health can play a prevalent role in dissolution proceedings. For example, if one spouse alleges they cannot work due to a chronic condition or that the opposing party caused them to suffer mental or emotional distress, their health may be at issue, and in such instances, their medical records may come into play. If a party does not place their health at issue, though, their health information is privileged under Florida law. Recently, a Florida court discussed the disclosure of a party’s medical records in divorce cases in a matter in which it ultimately ruled the wife’s health information was privileged. If you aim to end your marriage, it is important to talk to a skillful Miami divorce attorney about what information you may have to produce to establish your claims.

History of the Case

The underlying facts of the case were not provided in the court’s opinion. It is alleged, however, that the parties were involved in a dissolution proceeding. Subsequently, the wife sought a writ of certiorari quashing the order issued by the trial court to the extent it compelled her to produce her mental health records and personnel records without requiring that they first undergo an in-camera review before they were turned over to the husband’s expert. Further, the wife asserted that the trial court failed to issue a finding that she waived her privilege to the records.

Discoverability of Health Records in Divorce Cases

The court found that the records in question were privileged pursuant to case law and statute. Specifically, Florida law is clear that a person’s medical records are confidential. Additionally, Florida law cautions against permitting parties to discover entire personnel files, as it could lead to the disclosure of information that is not relevant but could cause irreversible harm.

In evaluating whether privileged records are subject to disclosure, the relevant question is whether there has been a waiver of the privilege, either voluntarily or involuntarily, or there is a statutory exception to the privilege that applies. In the subject case, the court noted that the trial court failed to conduct an analysis on the issue of whether the wife waived her privilege to the records and, therefore, departed from the essential requirements of the law. The trial court also departed from the essential requirements by failing to conduct an in-camera review. Thus, the petition was granted.

Consult an Experienced Miami Attorney About Your Divorce

Health records often contain private information that people would not want to be disclosed, and in most divorce proceedings, such information is protected. If you or your spouse intend to end your marriage, it is wise to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. The experienced Miami divorce attorneys of the Law Offices of Sandy T. Fox, P.A., are mindful of the legal and emotional challenges that come with ending a marriage, and if we represent you, we will advocate zealously on your behalf.  We have an office in Aventura, and we regularly assist people with divorce matters in Miami. You can contact us via our online form or at 800-596-0579 to set up a conference.

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