But the therapist is unlikely to testify about what was said in the sessions, especially in the context of a divorce proceeding. I really appreciate that all marriage counseling sessions are kept confidential and protected by privacy laws from being used in court. Aunt Tina and Uncle Tom would really appreciate this because they could have said a lot of incriminating things, even motivated by anger, during their dialogues with their marriage counselor. It is comforting that counselors can only release generic statements about the topics discussed during meetings.
In general, ethical standards and privacy laws protect those who participate in any type of therapy. Even if a licensed therapist or counselor is summoned by a judge, a therapist is limited in what he or she is allowed to disclose. Because these topics are limited to general topics that may have arisen in a session, therapists are rarely cited in divorce or child custody cases. Court-ordered marriage therapy is just what it sounds like.
The judge may require you and your spouse to attend marriage counseling before granting you a divorce. The judge would probably specify the number of sessions or a specific time frame. You and your spouse are responsible for paying for counseling. Your counselor will inform the court that you met the conditions.
The substance of what can be disclosed in court is protected by the rules of evidence and HIPAA laws. If a therapist is called in, he or she is not required to hand over everything on file. When appointing, the therapist is also not required to acknowledge that he knows or treats the person whose records are cited. The therapist has the right to determine the validity of the summons, follow up with the client for authorization to release information, and consult an attorney.
Therapists can sometimes be discretionary about the information they disclose by summarizing what they consider relevant rather than divulging the entire file or testifying in person. There are many cases where counselors or psychologists are called to testify in court. If you want to take a family therapist to court, you first need your lawyer to make sure you're comfortable doing so. Although rare, courts may require spouses to attend marriage counseling before sealing a divorce.
A court, in most states, can order it if it believes there is a possibility of reconciliation. If one of the partners requests it, some states make it mandatory. Others leave the decision up to a court to decide whether or not to approve the motion. Before divorce, it's common for couples to have been in marriage counseling in an attempt to save their marriage.
My father has been going to marriage counseling for the past few years trying to get my stepmother to recognize my sister and be part of the family, he has depression and is a compulsive liar, but my father kept him for 11 years to save his marriage.