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Is what I tell our marriage counselor confidential in Illinois?
Suppose you and your spouse attend marriage counseling, and you admit to illegal drug use during counseling. Later, in your divorce or child custody trial, you learn that use your soon-to-be ex-spouse intends to use your confession of illegal drug use against you. Is that possible?
This is not a simple question.
To begin, in Illinois, certain types of people are prohibited from telling others what is said to them in confidence, and this also includes testifying in court. What is said in confidence is protected by a "privilege" and cannot be told to anyone else—even a court. For example, you have probably heard of the attorney-client privilege which prohibits a lawyer from revealing the confidences told by their client.
Now, back to the "not so simple" question: Is what I tell our marriage counselor confidential in Illinois?
In Illinois, there is a "therapist-patient privilege" and it is found in the Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act. Specifically, it can be found in Section 10 of statute 740 ILCS 110/10.
In Illinois, the MHDDCA states the therapist-patient privilege as follows:
"Except as provided herein, in any civil, criminal, administrative, or legislative proceeding, or in any proceeding preliminary thereto, a recipient, and a therapist on behalf and in the interest of a recipient, has the privilege to refuse to disclose and to prevent the disclosure of the recipient's record or communications." 740 ILCS 110/10(a)
In Illinois, Section 2 of the MHDDCA limits disclosure of "any communication made by a recipient or other person to a therapist or to or in the presence of other persons during or in connection with providing mental health ... services to a recipient."
Hence, marriage counseling, group therapy, or family therapy are included, so long as your marriage counselor is a "therapist." Therefore, he or she cannot testify in court or disclose in any way your statements made in confidence. However, there are exceptions. These exceptions are further explored in Part Three of this series.If you are considering divorce and would like to first speak with a compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyer to discuss your situation, please call 630-920-8855 today and schedule your free consultation. With over 75 years of combined experience, our attorneys are here to help you.
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