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Question about discovery

Biostep7777's picture

Ok so help me out here. Here is the situation: 

DH and HCBM are in a custody battle. In discovery they asked for everything. Some things are just ridiculous like any notes from marital therapy. Her attorney even went in front of the judge and the judge was like "absolutely NOT" HCBM is so freaking nosey. She just wants information. So, judge said family therapy notes are ok and gave the go ahead for those notes because it's discoverable. Judge said but ANYTHING marital I don't want to see it and Attorney’s work together to redact anything marital. Judge also said "I am only allowing this because it's the rules but doesn't mean I'm going to use any of this" we all know it's nothing more than HCBM just using the rules to be nosey. Judge was not happy. 
Here is the issue though, the family therapist we saw it was JUST DH and I. We talked about everything. Kids, blending our family, our marriage, struggles, victories! I mean everything! It was only DH and I in every session together which to me by definition IS marital since it was him and I together. We stated it as family therapy because initially that's what we went to him for but HCBM refused to allow step kids to participate so DH and I started to see him ourselves because we really liked him and he specializes in high conflict cases and really helped us cope with the crap we were going through. So, now this is going to be discoverable apparently?? But here is my thing. I understand if the parents therapy notes are discoverable but MINE??? What the hell is going on here? I am thinking of calling my attorney and having her quash this based on the fact that this was 1) by definition marital since he and I were there together as a married couple getting advice on how to cope with the stress of crazy and not let it ruin our marriage but also 2) I don't think stepmoms mental health records are discoverable and since I was at every single session wouldn't that be reason to quash it? I'm LIVID!!! I absolutely rather die than allow HCBM to sit and read about all of MY personal thoughts, struggles etc... this is the hill I will die on. This is my private thoughts, feelings, struggles. Things that she has zero rights to. And because we said it's "family therapy" which we meant we go in and talk about anything that has to do with our family. We didn't call it marital because it wasn't JUST marital but family encompasses everything(including our marriage duh!) . But because of a technicality on word usage HCBM is going to get to see this stuff???  I'm just floored!!!! My only hesitation is if I fight it they might be like "oh she's hiding something" (which I'm not. I simply want to keep my privacy from a nutball) and they might end up saying it's discoverable anyway which means I wasted money fighting it for no reason. 

Any advice??? 

Winterglow's picture

I'd say that the only family therapy notes she should be allowed to see are those where her children are actually involved. As she refused to let her kids attend these sessions, I would think that that squashes any right she may have to poke her nose into this. Redefine your sessions as marital sessions, if necessary, clear it with your therapist. Marital therapy covers all of the things you mentioned. I would not be in the least bit bothered if BM thinks you're trying to hide anything - after all, the judge said herself that she didn't want to see anything marital, right? She is already aware that BM is simply shit-stirring. I'd stop worrying about what the judge will think, to be honest.

Biostep7777's picture

Well the parent's mental health notes are discoverable. DH shared that he was diagnosed with Autism so apparently that opened the door to get therapy notes for discovery. Which, we are actually like "whatever" the only thing we are NOT ok with is therapy that I was involved in. Why on earth would my therapy notes be discoverable?? If marital isn't discoverable I would assume step moms isn't either!! I could understand if there was concerns about the kids safety or concerns about if my mental health was hurting the children but nope! She has NEVER made any claims like that about me. Although, I'm sure if she read this stuff she absolutely witch take any little morsel and try to claim that. Which is exactly why she wants access. So, why is my mental health notes discoverable?? This whole thing just seems downright crazy to me. There's nothing in there that I had ever said that is remarkable in any way BUT I feel completely violated. I am not part of this lawsuit. 

ESMOD's picture

I would have your atty craft wording to explain that there was no family therapy done.. only marital therapy as the children were never party to any of the sessions.   You can say that the intent was to do that.. but without BM's approval for the kid's kept the appointments but decided to use them as your  marital therapy.

Even in "marital therapy".. I'm sure kids come up.. but that doesn't change it to family therapy.

Your lawyer knows this... but discovery is asking a lot of questions.  It does NOT mean every question needs to have answers if the information is not relevant to your proceeding.... like if she asked how many times you got your nails done a year etc.. no relevance.

Biostep7777's picture

So here's the issue. DH and I in our depositions described it as "family therapy" simply because that is what we initially wanted to see him for but that didn't pan out so we continued to see our "family therapist" together. So, because we have both said we see a family therapist, that is how it's being defined. In actuality what we meant is we see him together and we talk about everything to do with our family. But because we didn't use the work marital it's discoverable. However, we thought that since we kept saying we go together that it was implied that obviously this is marital. We didn't think we had to use this exact term. "We go together to talk about family dynamics, how to cope with the stress of the lawsuit, discussing parenting, the kids, ect" but because we did not specifically say "marital" even though that's exactly what it is, then it's discoverable??? This is straight craziness to me. Oh the other thing is he only has my husband down as a client for insurance purposes and again, because in the beginning we wanted to use him for all of us but we weren't sure which direction we would go in so he just kept using "individual therapy" incase anything changed and because insurance doesn't cover marital/family therapy which is insane in itself 

Winterglow's picture

Then be blunt (and truthful!) and say exactly what you used the sessions for. As marital sessions, they have no place in discovery. Don't let it go any further. 

Biostep7777's picture

Yeah but it seems like at this point we are saying that so they can't see it which might seem like there's something to hide which then it will be discoverable anyway. If her attorney stated that we are only saying this so these notes can't be discoverable and I'm concerned that there is some danger to the kids then the judge could grant that anyway. 
However, OBVIOUSLY there is nothing that is a danger to the kids because our therapist would be required by law to report anything like that. So, it's really just frustrating. But, this is definitely something I am willing to fight for because this has gone way too far. She had invaded and violated every part of our lives. My personal thoughts, feeling and struggles that I discuss with our therapist shoukf absolutely NEVER be in her hands. This is one I will fight. This is my privacy. I'm just NOT ok with this 

Winterglow's picture

Firstly, stop worrying about appearances. Enough of the "what ifs". Secondly, I'm pretty sure your therapist will be only too happy to write whatever you need that testifies that the sessions were purely marital. 

ESMOD's picture

The therapist can clearly write a statement that none of the sessions were attended by the children.  Your attorney's job is to craft a statement saying that while you did say you were seeking to have family counseling with your skids, the skids were not allowed to attend any sessions, so you used your appointments for marital counseling purposes and that is not relevant to this proceeding.  

And... I am guessing it may even be possible for you to object to providing any session information where you were present because you are not a party to this case.

Winterglow's picture

Also, make sure the attorney points out that BM was well aware that these were not family sessions because she refused to send her kids to even one. 

simifan's picture

I would absolutely fight this order. I agree with winter - have family therapy defined as sessions with the children. What you and your DH dicussed with a therapit should definitely be off limits. 

Mominit's picture

If you want to appear cooperative, but don't actually want to send her your notes, perhaps you can get your therapist to pick one or two (or three) sessions where the topic was the children, it doesn't provide anything damaging, and shows that you were using a therapist to be the best parents you can be.  Or perhaps a session where DH is getting the therapist's advice on how to best deal with a stressful, nosey, drama-loving BM (as long as it paints him in a good light).

And then have the therapist write a letter stating that these are all of the notes she has for family therapy and that she will not be releasing those sessions which were marital therapy. Get your lawyer's input though because I think that once she releases any of the notes, you may have waived confidentiality on all of them.

lieutenant_dad's picture

I'm petty. I'd ask all the notes to go to my attorney, have my attorney redact anything I said or mentions me, and then send the redacted letters along with a bill to BM and her attorney.

Biostep7777's picture

The judge already signed that both DH's as well as HCBM's attorney get all the records and they can redact anything marital. That's fine. However!!! I don't think his attorney realizes that I was at every single season so literally by definition, if he and I are in there together and only us, anything we discuss is marital right? I mean marital privilege?? The whole thing is so strange and I just don't want her to read things that I have discussed. There is ZERO reason for that.