Many treatment centers and mental health professionals refer families to our firm to help their impaired loved ones.




Frequently Asked Questions about Marchman Act

A family member, spouse, or any unrelated individual, such as a friend with knowledge of the substance use, can file the Marchman Act pleadings.

Since the Marchman Act is a legal proceeding and the rules of procedure and evidence apply, it is best to have wise counsel from the onset. Joe Considine has advised over 500 families and prepared the necessary pleadings and paperwork required by the courts in Florida to start the process of getting loved ones help. Joe Considine has a detailed understanding of the criteria, intricacies, and timelines of the Marchman Act.

The first step in helping a person who is abusing substances is to bring awareness of the problem to light. Shedding light on the problem is something that you have likely been attempting for some time now. If talking to your loved one is not working, you can take additional steps to protect yourself and your loved one from the devastating effects of substance abuse.

Many treatment centers and mental health professionals refer families to Joe Considine to help the addict and alcoholic. Joe Considine writes extensively and has published many articles on the Marchman Act. He regularly speaks to groups of mental health expert and treatment professionals.

An essential element of Filing a Marchman Act case with the court is the preparation of the necessary paperwork called pleadings.

In our practice, we have prepared and filed many hundreds of Marchman Act pleadings including the Petition for Involuntary Assessment and the Petition for Involuntary Services. The paperwork/pleadings must demonstrate to the Court that the individual meets the Marchman Act criteria for involuntary assessment and treatment.

We meet with the client and get a complete history of the addict and alcoholic’s abuse of substances, behaviors, job losses, arrests, prior treatments, legal consequences, and so forth, in order to draft the Marchman Act pleadings.

Our staff takes the time to work with the Clerk of Court to make sure that the hearings are scheduled properly and that all parties receive the pleadings and notice of the hearings.

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, 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.




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.

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.

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.

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.




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.

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

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

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.

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.