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Can a Non-Custodial Parent Have Access to Their Child's Records?

You have made it through the exhausting process of negotiating the custody of your kids. You have visitation which is what you believe is in your children's best interest and you go to pick them up from daycare and you go up to the front desk and request to see their daily attendance records only to be told that your ex-wife has said that you are not allowed to see any records because she has sole custody. What do you do?

Fear not, under Ohio law, even parents with visitation and not shared parenting, have equal access to all records: medical, education, day care, etc., under the law. Unfortunately, this is a common misconception by many daycare centers and schools that may require a letter from your attorney to clear up and confusion. First, check your court paperwork. There may be language in the Separation Agreement to provide your child(ren)'s care giver. Often plans include provisions for access to records where the keeper of the records (the daycare center, medical office, or school) can be held in contempt of court if they do not provide the records requested. However, it is never to a good idea to threaten the caregiver or doctor of your child with contempt of court. First, explain that you have equal rights to the records and you simply want to see the records and your children. Second, if that does not work, write a letter or have your attorney do so. This non-confrontational explanation of the law is usually successful. The absolute last resort is filing a contempt of court action against your child(ren)'s provider. If you have been happy with the daycare provider or pediatrician in the past, you certainly do not want to lose those services over a contempt of court action so try every route possible before the route of filing a court action. 

The only exception to the "access to records" rule is if there is a court order limiting your access. If the court has deemed it to be in the child(ren)'s best interest for either parent not to have access to any records, then access will be limited. Only then will a provider be able to refuse access to any records. The important thing to remember is that there is a presumption that you have access to records. Only if there is a defined rule that you cannot have the records can a provider withhold information. If you have any questions regarding this or any other family law issues, do not hesitate to contact a family law attorney at Rittgers & Rittgers. 

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