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Should Participation in a Child Custody Evaluation Compel the Release of Psychotherapy Records?

NCJ Number
Journal of Child Custody Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: April-June 2010 Pages: 138-154
Elizabeth M. Ellis
Date Published
June 2010
17 pages
This article discusses the question of should a child custody evaluator routinely request all psychotherapy records of the parties involved in the case?
The author opens with a case study in which a child custody evaluator was cited for not requesting the parents' psychotherapy records. The APA Child Custody Evaluation Guidelines are reviewed, as well as the HIPAA regulations on the release of psychotherapy notes. The ethical and clinical issues surrounding the dilemma of gathering appropriate information vs. maintaining the privilege are examined. This is followed by a review of judicial rulings on this issue. A case study is offered as an example of a way to reach a compromise between these two competing interests. The author closes with a list of recommendations by attorneys and psychologists favoring restraint in seeking psychotherapy records of parents' involved in child custody disputes. (Published Abstract)