Can our marriage therapist be forced to testify during our divorce?

Dear Liz,
My marriage is over despite months of trying to work it out with my husband through a marriage therapist. We really aired out our problems and earnestly attempted to fix our serious issues, but in the end, we decided that a divorce is the best option for us at this time. Given the gravity of some of the things discussed in therapy, I would be humiliated if our private details are made public in a court room. Can our marriage therapist be forced to testify during our divorce?
– A Private Matter

Dear A Private Matter,

Oh, wow, I couldn’t even begin to imagine the awkward and embarrassing feeling of having to worry about the contents of therapy sessions being openly talked about. I’ll skip the friendly banter and jump right to the expert answer. My pal Amy is an expert on divorce and so I’m going to let her chime in on this one.

Here is what Amy had to say:

The court can order anyone, including a therapist, to testify. In determining whether a witness will testify, the court must consider whether the information to be presented is relevant to the case and whether the information is protected by a privilege. Maine law provides for confidentiality between a therapist and patient that may disallow a therapist from testifying. However, there are exceptions to that privilege of confidentiality. One exception is if the patient (or patients in the case of marriage counseling) waives the confidentiality privilege. This is a good topic to raise with your lawyer as there are several exceptions. In addition, under Maine’s law of no-fault divorce, it may be infrequent that a marriage counselor would have relevant testimony during a divorce trial.

Good luck!

~ Liz

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