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Divorce & Family Law This forum is for discussing any of the legal issues involved in your divorce.

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Old 02-01-2012, 03:13 PM
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Default how to obtain "open" counselling records

Hi everyone,

In July 2010 as part of our attempts to reestablish contact with my alienated step-daughter, my husband and his ex signed a temporary settlement agreeing to "open" counselling. Suffice it to say the counselling was a disaster and if anything, made matters worse. We think the counsellor's notes would be helpful in establishing in court the ex's alienating behaviours. Does anyone know how we would get a copy of the notes? Given that it's open counselling, can we just request them or does there have to be a judge's order?

Thanks!
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Old 02-01-2012, 03:27 PM
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Originally Posted by plky View Post
Hi everyone,

In July 2010 as part of our attempts to reestablish contact with my alienated step-daughter, my husband and his ex signed a temporary settlement agreeing to "open" counselling. Suffice it to say the counselling was a disaster and if anything, made matters worse. We think the counsellor's notes would be helpful in establishing in court the ex's alienating behaviours. Does anyone know how we would get a copy of the notes? Given that it's open counselling, can we just request them or does there have to be a judge's order?

Thanks!
1. In the medical industry (and PHIPA) there is no such thing as "open" counseling.

2. Your daughter would form part of the notes that the counselor took and her consent would be required for the release of this medical information under PHIPA.

3. You can request from the clinician (hopefully they have a governing body) copies of the notes. If your daughter does not provide consent they still can be provided but, anything pertaining to your daughter, anything she said and any observation would be censored out. (Making them useless.)

4. Depending on your daughter's age and the custodial rights you have to her medical records you as a parent may be able to get a copy of the records. Over 14 then no... Under 14 you can get them so long as you have "joint custody". If the other parent has "sole custody" then you are not going to be able to get them.

5. You can go on motion (or request them at a conference) to have them released. 9 times out of 10 the judge will allow it as they are valid records of evidence under PHIPA to be used.

6. You should seek consent from the other parent for the release of the medical records. If they don't consent then you may be able to get them as a "joint custodial parent". If you are not a joint custodial parent then you have to go on motion and attach the request for the consent and reason you require the notes.

7. YOu should really be seeking the involvement of a Section 30 custody and access evaluator or the OCL to deal with something like this. Notes from a counselor are generally poorly written and useless.

Good Luck!
Tayken

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Old 02-01-2012, 04:02 PM
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Thanks Tayken. It looks like a motion would be the way to go in our case though we'll have weigh whether it's worth it. Our daughter only saw the counsellor on 2 or 3 occasions over a 5 month period. Mostly we are interested in what the x said and did, and emails that she sent to the counsellor. We suspect that there is a lot the counsellor was unwilling to tell us because she was obligated to remain neutral.

The agreement has the following clause:

"If either party request it, or if [the counsellor] deems it necessary, [the counsellor] may prepare a report of the counselling."

We asked the counsellor about preparing a report at the time and she was evasive. She said she didn't want to because the only purpose it served was further litigation and she had decided that was not in the child's best interest. (She had privately advised us that our efforts were too late and we had no hope with our daughter at that point.) She also complained that it was time consuming and she didn't want to be answerable for it at a trial. We didn't press it because we didn't want the fact that we were asking for it to influence what she wrote. If we asked for it now, would she be legally obliged to notify the ex?

Note, we have no intention of seeking custody or any kind of reunification through the courts. Our daughter is now 16 and that ship has sailed. This is about being prepared for future problems that we anticipate over child support (ex will claim she should not be obligated to provide info about schooling when our daughter reaches 18 because dad is "dangerous" and "threatening" and daughter needs her privacy. We need to establish that this is part of her alienating bs.)
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