As part of a divorce, custody, guardianship or other family law matter, children’s medical records are often sought to address any number of issues. Perhaps the child’s caregiver needs certain medical records for a child to be enrolled in school or an activity/sport. A parent may need the children’s medical records to determine whether child support should continue past the age of nineteen (19) if there is a severe medical issue where the child is incapacitated and there is a divorce action pending.1
Nevertheless, an individual’s medical records, including those of children, are protected under state and federal law, specifically HIPAA.2 Parents and legal guardians have access to the medical records of minor children. However, requesting and receiving medical records can be an intricate process without proper understanding of same. Obtaining these records is the topic of this blog post.
First, one must determine who has access to a child’s medical records. In today’s age, oftentimes grandparents or other family members provide sole physical and financial care for a child, but they do not have a formal, court-ordered guardianship. Without legal guardianship/custody of a child, such a person cannot receive medical records, as same are confidential and are to be released only to a parent or guardian. Oftentimes, this means that a grandparent or family member will need to petition the court for guardianship to request medical records, which would then give them legal rights to access information, if granted.
Additionally, records are not released verbally by request without some further action. The parent or guardian must sign a release for the records, as they are acting as the representative of the child who cannot make these medical access legal decisions due to their age. Records can then be processed and released to a parent or guardian to be used for any number of reasons including enrolling for school, further medical care, litigation, or collateral information for a Guardian ad Litem or custody evaluation.
If a parent or guardian is seeking medical records for a court purposes, it may be necessary for the records to be certified as a record kept in the course of the business of the medical provider.3 This may help address hearsay issues with the records if same need to be admitted or addressed in Court. The records are still confidential however, and must be submitted as such.
Navigating the process of medical records as it relates to legal matters or the relationship necessary to obtaining legal status to obtain record by third-parties is generally complicated, and you may want to seek the advice of an attorney to assist with addressing the process, as well as protecting their dissemination once received. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. attorneys practice domestic throughout the State of Indiana and understand the significance of these issues and cases. This blog post is written by Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates and is not intended as specific legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.