Frequently Asked Questions about the Marchman Act

Marchman Act FAQ:

It is quite simple. The Marchman Act works by using leverage. The addict/alcoholic faces the prospect of a simple choice: Either go to treatment for the help they need or risk being held in contempt of court and going to jail for refusal to follow a court order to go to treatment.

Yes. There are many studies which have been done which show that involuntary treatment is at least as effective if not more so than voluntary treatment. Knowing that there are consequences for leaving treatment creates a sense of resignation or willingness in the addict/alcoholic so that the recovery process can begin.

Yes, no one outside the parties, their lawyers and mental health professionals in the case are allowed to have access to the court records. The law provides that there may not even be any acknowledgement in the Clerk of Court’s online docket or records sheet that there is a Marchman Act case filed.

That the addict/alcoholic may get angry is not the issue. The only issue is whether you as the loved one is going to act to protect the addict/alcoholic loved one from themselves. Many times the addict/alcoholic is initially angry but almost always followed up later by gratitude that the family member had the courage to file and get the person help.

No, the Clerk of Court does not charge a filing fee.

You have to show that he/she meets the Marchman Act criteria.

First, that the person is impaired as a result of substance abuse. Secondly, either that the person does not have the judgment to know they need help; or, that they are a danger to themselves or others because they have a substance abuse impairment.

The Marchman Act allows for the filing of an emergency petition for assessment and stabilization which, if properly drafted, will allow the Court to enter an emergency (ex parte) order for assessment without having a hearing. The loved one an be transported by law enforcement to treatment.

Under the law, the initial pleadings are to be filed in the county where the loved one is presently located. He/she need not be a resident of the State of Florida but simply be in the county on a visit, vacation or otherwise present.

A person needing help need not be a resident of Florida to be subject to the Marchman Act. He/she only need to be present, however briefly, in Florida.

No, the Marchman Act requires that there be no public record or public access to any of the pleadings in the Marchhman Act case.

The family must make the arrangement for treatment including paying out of pocket costs not covered by insurance and providing insurance information. A private treatment facility is not required to accept a person under a Marchman Act order if there have been no arrangements made for payment. There are some public supported facilities in most counties in Florida but they many times have waiting lists for beds.

In many instances, the Court can enter an order for law enforcement to pick up your loved one and take him/her to the treatment facility. Otherwise, it is up to the addict/alcoholic to comply with the treatment order by getting to the facility on a timely basis.

We are a system of laws and a judge expects that those subject to a court order will obey the order. The Court will enforce its Order. The Court will enter an order of contempt which will require the individual to go to treatment or the Court will send the person to jail until he/she decides to go to treatment.

The Marchman Act allows for two extensions of the initial treatment order for additional periods of time. A petition for renewal of the initial treatment order must be filed no later than 10 days prior to the expiration of the initial treatment order and the court schedules a hearing on the renewal petition.


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