Ask A Lawyer: Is Withholding Medical Documents Considered Contempt?

Question:

My son was injured during a recent visit with his mother; however I was only informed about the incident after I noticed the chip on my sons tooth and scrapes on his face. I was told that she took our child to the ER, but I have been asking for the documentation for this event for about six months.  I still have yet to see any documentation of my son’s visit to the ER.

Can I hold her in contempt since it is in our child and visitation order that we both have the right to get any type of medical documents when asked for?

Also, if I do file, do I need to travel all the way to Virginia since the children and I are residing in Florida?

 

Answer:

Your rights to medical records of your child depend upon the age of the child and any court orders restricting your rights to such records.  Assuming the medical services were rendered in Virginia, the medical record laws of Virginia would determine how you may obtain the records from the provider, which may involve you having to go to Virginia or getting a release from your child if of a certain age.  If your insurance paid for the treatment, you may be able to obtain the records as part of the insurance claim process.  If the provider is refusing to provide you copies, you would need to consult with an attorney in Virginia or perhaps the Virginia professional regulatory agency which oversees the provider(s) involved.

Divorce orders that state that each parent has the right to obtain or have access to records of the children are of limited utility and primarily are used to avoid later claims by one parent that the other parent’s access is to be restricted.  Under such provisions, the burden on obtaining the records rests with the parent seeking the records.  If your ex-spouse is actively preventing the provider(s) from giving you copies, she may be in violation of the terms of the divorce order and may be sanctioned by the appropriate court for her misconduct.

A divorce order that requires each parent to provide copies of records to the other parent would allow you to seek enforcement of the order through contempt or simple enforcement proceedings to get your ex-spouse to turn over the records.

If the problem with obtaining the records is with your ex-spouse’s conduct, you should consult a qualified domestic relations attorney to determine the appropriate jurisdiction and proceedings to obtain compliance with the court order by your ex-spouse and to asses whether sanctions against your ex-spouse are warranted.

 

 

Richard Coffee is a Litigation Manager in the Belleville Illinois office of Cordell & Cordell. He is an experienced divorce attorney whose practice is devoted to domestic litigation. He is licensed in the State of Illinois and is admitted to practice law in the U.S. District Courts for Northern, Central and Southern Illinois.

Mr. Coffee has extensive domestic litigation trial experience representing clients in courts throughout Illinois on all aspects of domestic litigation, including the representation of clients who are current or retired military personnel with issues under the Soldiers and Sailors Civil Relief Act and the Uniformed Services Former Spouses’ Protection Act, clients involved in state court jurisdictional disputes due to the relocation of one or both parties from or to Illinois, and clients with government or private pension benefit valuation and division issues.

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