Q: I am divorced and my ex-wife is listed as
the “residential parent for school placement purposes” in our parenting
plan. My son’s school will not allow me
to see his school records since my ex-wife’s name is the only name on the
records. Can the school refuse to let me see my son’s records?
Unless the school has been presented with a court order that says you have no right
to access to your child’s school records, the school is required by law to give
both you and your wife the exact same access to your child’s records, even if
you are not your son’s residential parent. Assuming your parenting plan has no
such restriction, the school was wrong in not allowing you access to your son’s
Q: Does this rule apply to both public and
A: Yes. Both public and non-public schools must comply with Ohio’s
“records access law.” Only a court can restrict a parent’s right of access to most
records regarding a child, including school records. In order to restrict the
access, the court must make a specific finding as to why a parent’s right of
access should be limited and the circumstances under which the parent can
obtain access. For example, if the court decides it is not in the child’s best
interests for the non-residential parent to have access to school guidance
counseling records, then the court would have to specifically state its reasons
for that decision in its court order. In such a case, the court order would specifically
deny the non-residential parent access to school guidance counseling records,
but would still allow the non-residential parent access to the child’s grades
or other records. Only with a copy of that court order can the
school legally restrict your access to any of your child’s records.
Q: Does this rule only apply to “shared
parenting” plans, or does it also apply to any kind of parenting arrangement
when parents are divorced?
applies to any kind of parenting
arrangement, even if the non-residential parent sees his or her child on an
extremely limited basis.
Q: What kinds of records does the “right of
is a very long list of the kinds of records the “right of access” covers. Except
when a court specifically denies a parent access to particular records through
a court order, a parent has access to “any record, document, file or other material
containing information directly related to a child.”
Q: My ex-wife always takes our children to the
doctor. When I called the doctor’s office for information about a medicine my
son is taking, the receptionist said my ex-wife would have to sign a release of
information form before she could share any information from my son’s record.
Can the receptionist do that?
Your “right of access” to your child’s records applies to a long list of public
and private businesses that are obligated to give you access, including
doctor’s offices, schools, child care
facilities (day care centers), hospitals, doctor’s offices, dentist’s offices,
psychologists, school counselors, and most state agencies. In the statute, the
list is much longer.
Q: Might a doctor’s office violate the HIPAA
privacy laws by giving my ex-wife access to our child’s medical records?
no. Although there are limited
exceptions, a doctor’s office does not violate HIPAA by giving a parent access
to his or her child’s medical records, since a minor child’s “personal
representative” is allowed to have access. If a doctor’s office does claim that
it cannot release records because of HIPAA, then that office should be prepared
to establish that one of those limited exceptions applies. In such a case, you
may wish to involve your legal counsel to help you obtain the records you seek.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the Ohio State Bar
Association (OSBA). It was prepared by Columbus attorney Bobbie Corley O’Keefe
of Carlile Patchen & Murphy LLP. The column offers general information
about the law. Seek an attorney’s advice before applying this information to a
Labels: custody, divorce, parenting, private school, public school