Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. routinely conduct mediations where one or both parties have some sort of mental health condition. Our mediators are very cognizant that these types of issues can be extremely sensitive and that some parties are not willing to openly discuss or even acknowledge their mental health issues. In addition, these issues need to be handled properly in order to protect records that are confidential but are very pertinent to a judicial determination of a number of important issues such as spousal support and setting a time-sharing schedule.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. recognize that in a highly contested divorce case, one or both spouses may have improper motives in requesting the release of mental health records that are confidential which causes our mediators to take an extreme amount of care when dealing with cases involving mental health issues.
Florida Statute § 61.13 sets forth the different factors which a Florida Family Law Court is required to consider in determining the best interest of the child, one of which is subsection (g) – “The mental and physical health of the parents”. During the course of a marriage, spouses usually openly discuss personal issues like medical conditions and mental health issues. When parties separate, often parties want to hurt each other with this private and legally protected information so one parties’ mental and physical health records are typically not available to the other party.
Florida Statute § 90.503 is titled “Psychotherapist-patient privilege” and typically allows a spouse to prevent the disclosure of records which were made for either diagnosing or treating mental health conditions. § 90.503(1)(a) provides an extremely broad definition of who qualifies as a “psychotherapist” and it includes doctors, psychologists, therapists, social workers, and substance abuse counselors, among others.
Then, § 90.503(2) provides that the “patient has a privilege to refuse to disclose, and to prevent any other person from disclosing, confidential communications or records made for the purpose of diagnosis or treatment of the patient’s mental or emotional condition, including alcoholism and other drug addiction.” It is important to understand that this psychotherapist-patient privilege is not completely absolute.
Our Florida Supreme Court Certified Mediators at Mediation of Coral Springs, Inc. will assist you and the other party in openly discussing your issues in a private setting where you and the other party can explore mutually acceptable resolutions of your dispute. Not only is the setting private, but it is also confidential and nothing that is discussed in mediation is admissible in a Florida Family Courtroom. One of the main reasons for it being a confidential setting is to promote each party to openly discuss the issues to their dispute. It also means that a party can use confidential medical records to help in obtaining a mediated settlement agreement without fearing that these records can be made public or used in a court proceeding.