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C.L. v. M.P.

Pennsylvania Superior Court

May 26, 2021

In C.L. v. M.P., Mother filed appeals from the orders that appointed a guardian ad litem (GAL) and provided the GAL access to the mental health records of Mother and C.L. (Father) from the last three years. The Pennsylvania Superior Court granted en banc reargument to consider three issues: (1) whether participation in a custody action results in the waiver of protection by the Mental Health Procedures Act (MHPA); (2) whether the Custody Act provides for the “least intrusive means” of a sufficient mental-health evaluation of the parent, or whether the trial court may order a limited disclosure of the records; and (3) whether the trial court erred in disclosing confidential mental health records to the GAL. The Court concluded that Mother’s mental health records were privileged under the mandates of the MHPA. Furthermore, the Court noted that in custody cases, such as this one, the same information available in a party’s mental health records may be gleaned from a Rule 1915.8 evaluation, i.e., a less intrusive means. Thus, the MHPA and the precedents did not authorize the disclosure of Mother’s mental health records, even if limited to three years and even if limited to access by the Child’s GAL.

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