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Does a parent's privacy take a backseat in child custody matters?

Post-traumatic stress disorder is common among military veterans here in Georgia and elsewhere who have been in active combat zones. Many receive treatment, but do not discuss the circumstances that caused their PTSD or the particulars of their treatment outside of a counselor's office. Ordinarily, they are entitled to that privacy, but when it comes to child custody matters, a parent's expectation of privacy could disappear.

This is because a judge may determine that those details are crucial to making a determination regarding custody. An out-of-state former marine was ordered to provide the court with his treatment records, but he refused. He did provide the court with a letter from a psychologist indicating that he is not violent and is not a threat to his children. The father feels that he is entitled to his privacy, and that his PTSD and his ability to be a parent are two separate issues.

The Arizona veteran and his ex-wife shared custody of the children. About a year ago, the relationship between the two parents deteriorated, so the man's former wife petitioned the court for primary custody based on his PTSD. The court has not made a final ruling, but did give the mother final decision-making authority -- at least for the time being.

When it comes to matters involving child custody, courts across the country (including here in Georgia) put the best interests of the child first. This may mean that the privacy rights of a parent could take a backseat since a judge may feel that this information could speak to a parent's state of mind and ability to parent. Regardless of the circumstances, parents facing potentially contentious child custody battles may benefit from the guidance and assistance of a family law attorney.

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

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