Child Custody & Psychotherapist Patient Privilege

Posted on Mon, Mar 27, 2017

Can a parent in a time sharing modification proceeding waive their minor child’s psychotherapist patient privilege and if an exception to the psychotherapist patient privilege exists when there is an ongoing social investigation involving time share with the minor child?

Florida statute 90.503 concerns the psychotherapist patient privilege. One applicable definition of a psychotherapist is “a person licensed or certified as a…family therapist, or mental health counselor under the laws of this state, who is engaged primarily in the diagnosis or treatment of a mental or emotional condition…” “A ‘patient’ is a person who consults, or is interviewed by, a psychotherapist for purposes of diagnosis or treatment of a mental or emotional condition…” A communication between a psychotherapist and a patient is generally confidential. A 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 between the patient and a psychotherapist. 90.503(2), Florida statutes (2013). The privilege may be claimed by, among others, the patient or guardian of the patient. There is no privilege in the course of a court ordered examination of the mental or emotional condition of the patient. 90.503, Florida statutes.

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