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My spouse says that our marriage counselor will voluntarily come to court and testify against me in our divorce case on his behalf. Can our marriage counselor really testify against me? Can our marriage counselor repeat what I said in marriage counseling to the court?
The Illinois Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities Confidentiality Act, or MHDDCA, provides that a "therapist" cannot reveal confidential statements to anyone—including the court—even in an Illinois divorce or child custody case. This is prohibited as part of the "therapist-patient privilege" in Illinois.
A therapist really has no choice. Choosing to testify is prohibited by the "therapist-patient privilege." The privilege is solely the choice of you, the person receiving counseling, not the therapist. See Renzi v. Morrison, 249 Ill.App.3d 5, 618 N.E.2d 794, 188 Ill.Dec. 244 (1st Dist. 1993).
Therefore, whether or not your marriage counselor volunteers to come to court to testify for your husband, your counselor simply cannot testify. In fact, if your therapist voluntarily tries to testify, he or she is liable for damages, including attorney fees and court costs under the MHDDCA statute:
Sec. 15: “Any person aggrieved by a violation of this Act may sue for damages, an injunction, or other appropriate relief. Reasonable attorney's fees and costs may be awarded to the successful plaintiff in any action under this Act."
Additionally, the marriage counselor may also be charged with a crime in Illinois. It is also a crime under the MHDDCA statue.
Sec. 16: “Any person who knowingly and willfully violates any provision of this Act is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.”
Divorce is complicated and can be overwhelming. However, you do not have to go through it alone. Our compassionate DuPage County divorce lawyers at the Law Office of Martoccio & Martoccio are available to speak with you—even if it is just to discuss questions you may have concerning marriage counseling and liability. Call us today at 630-920-8855 to schedule your free, confidential consultation.