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Barbara L. Jouette, Attorney, P.C.
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Child custody dispute involves father's mental health records

In most states, individuals have the right to privacy when it comes to their personal health records. A recent case involving a father with a post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis and a mother seeking full custody of her children has raised questions of just how private those records should remain. The story was recently covered in the news and gives details about the case and shares the man's quest for shared child custody. Individuals in Texas may find the questions raised by the case interesting. 

The man had served two tours in Iraq and was diagnosed with PTSD stemming from a single incident that he experienced during his service. The event happened in 2003, and the man divorced his wife in 2007 after ending his military career. The man is on 100 percent disability from the military for his PTSD diagnosis. Recently, his ex-wife tried to gain full custody of the children and requested that his mental health records be used to determine his eligibility for custody. 

A judge agreed that the man should release his mental health records, but the man refused, instead choosing to have his doctor release a summary and a statement that his diagnosis did not affect his ability to parent his children. He claims that his wife is simply using the mental health diagnosis as leverage. Although he did not lose shared custody of the children, final decision-making status was given to the wife. His refusal to disclose private health records was cited as a factor in the judge's decision. 

The man's case demonstrates one of the more difficult sides of child custody arrangements and raises questions of personal privacy versus the best interests of the children. Texas vets may be facing similar issues within their own families. A family law attorney can be a helpful tool when contemplating divorce and making provisions for child custody arrangements.

Source: 12news.com, "Can military vet's PTSD records be used against him in child custody dispute?", Joe Dana, July 25, 2017

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