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Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Oregon Laws Regarding Minors in Mental Health Treatment

Who is considered a minor?

Under Oregon law, anyone under the age of 18 is considered a minor (ORS 419B.550 [definition of minor] and ORS 109.510 [age of majority]). However, if a minor has been formally emancipated by the courts, some laws pertaining to minors are waived (ORS 419B.552 [emancipation of a minor]). See ORS 419B.550 through 419B.558 for further details.


§ 419B.550Definitions for ORS 419B.550 to 419B.558
§ 419B.552Application for emancipation judgment
§ 419B.555Hearing
§ 419B.558Entry of judgment of emancipation




Minors may be able to request certain levels of confidentiality or consent to various health care matters depending on their age. Such as:

Mental health and chemical dependency (ORS 109.675)
Right to diagnosis or treatment for mental or emotional disorder or chemical dependency without parental consent


A minor who is 14 years or older may access outpatient mental health, drug or alcohol treatment (excluding methadone) without parental consent. These services may include: 



• Seeking help from a psychiatrist or psychologist;

• Seeking mental health therapy from a doctor or social worker; and

• Seeking help for drug or alcohol use.


When a minor self-consents for health care services, providers are encouraged to use their best clinical judgment in deciding whether to share information with the parent or guardian (ORS 109.650). Disclosure without minors consent and without liability




 Although minors age 14 and older can access outpatient mental health and chemical dependency services independently, parents are expected to be involved in their treatment at some point.  ORS 109.675  Right to diagnosis or treatment for mental or emotional disorder or chemical dependency without parental consent

• Involvement does not mean that adults always have access to a minor’s mental health or chemical dependency records.


Oregon Revised Statutes (ORS) - http://www.oregonlaws.org and http://www.leg.state.or.us/ors



Access to Mental Health Records of minor by non-custodial parent

107.154 Authority of parent when other parent granted sole custody of child. 
Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an order of sole custody to one parent shall not deprive the other parent of the following authority:
   
      (3) To consult with any person who may provide care or treatment for the child and to inspect and receive the child’s medical, dental and psychological records, to the same extent as the custodial parent may consult with such person and inspect and receive such records.


However, counseling records are not considered psychological records. 
Though the non-custodial parent would have rights to verbal updates and consults.



Consent for the Treatment of Minors with Divorced Parents
 "When parents are battling over custody issues, therapists are sometimes used as pawns in an effort for one parent to "win" over the other parent. Don't let this happen! Always make an effort to communicate equally with both parents regarding their child's treatment. Seek the consent of both parents, even if the custody order doesn't require it. Always acquire, read and retain a copy of the most recent custody order for your records.
http://www.camft.org/ScriptContent/CAMFTarticles/ConsentIssues/Consent_Treatment.htm (The California Therapist)


Whenever working with children, consider the following:
1. Be familiar with your state laws and regulations. Some states allow minors to give informed consent if they have reached a certain age or under certain conditions. Some states allow for the non-custodial parent to consult the child's therapist.
2.  Routinely ask for documentation of the parental or custodial relationship.
3.Wherever possible, discuss the parental rights with both parents before treatment is initiated. If the parents are in divorce or custody litigation, establish rules about your role as the treating therapist and the testimony, if any, to be provided.
4. Always document at the time of treatment. Even though a social worker's treatment records for a child are more likely to be used in litigation between parents or guardians, they can always be used in malpractice litigation against the social worker.

Do parents get access to records of a 14+ year old? 
"HIPPA  and Oregon law conflict. The Oregon law is pretty vague as to when to involve parent against the will of the child. Obviously an emergency qualifies but the law states it necessary when the clinician predicts that the youth's condition will worsen to the point they will need hospitalization.  Once again its a situation where a good conversation with the kid about when info be shared with parents at the outset is a real good idea."








  • HIPAA Facts: Parent and Minor Rights (National)
  • Minors in Confidentiality (North Carolina)
  • FAQ on Services to Minors of Divorced Parents (North Carolina)

  • Child and Family Therapists are mandatory abuse reporters but are not child abuse investigators.

    Columbia Gorge Children’s Advocacy Center 
    Serving Mid-Columbia Gorge Region
    1340 Wasco Street
    PO Box 904
    Hood River, OR 97031
    (541) 436-2960
    Website: http://www.cgcac.org


    Divorce & Children http://www.mckinleyirvin.com/divorce-in-oregon/part-4/

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