Florida Marchman Act Questions


Most frequent questions and answers

If you have been unsuccessful at convincing the person to seek treatment voluntarily then we highly recommend consulting with a qualified Interventionist before you do anything else call now at 833-497-3808. If that is not an option and than you may consider filing for the Marchman Act.

The Marchman Act is the nickname for a Florida Statute best known for its unique provisions that allow family members to petition the courts for mandatory assessment and treatment of someone who is abusing drugs or alcohol appear to be a danger to themselves or others.

The Marchman Act is primarily for Chemical Dependency/Substance Abuse and is used for involuntary assessment and treatment with initial assessment order for up to 5 days and successive treatment orders of up to 60 days. The Baker Act is primarily for mental illness and is used for commitment to a psychiatric facility for up to 72 hours due to mental illness when someone appears to be a danger to themselves or others.

No. Most programs being for Marchman Act cases are open door, voluntary programs and the only thing holding the patient there is a court order.

There are provisions for emergency admission and/or protective custody which are usually short term and can be ordered by a physician or law enforcement officer. But when loved ones want to file it requires a person’s spouse, relative, guardian OR three non relative adults with firsthand knowledge of the persons impairment.

A parent, legal guardian or custodian of a minor may initiate petitions. However, it is their responsibility to find appropriate treatment, check availability and make necessary payment arrangements with the treatment provider (same is true for adults but the handbook makes specific reference to this with regard to minors).

We have found that every county is different and there are 67 counties in Florida. One thing remains true for every county and that is this; you must file in the county where the patient resides and plan to be at all future hearings. Typically you file at the main courthouse for that county. They usually have a mental health, probate, or injunction office where you can file. However, some counties have you go to the default assessment/treatment provider and speak with a counselor there who will give you the paperwork and further instructions for submitting petitions.

A Government issued Photo ID and address where the respondent can be served or picked up. You should also have information regarding the treatment provider who has agreed to receive the patient (preferable contact information and letter of acceptance). Some counties have additional items such as payment required to the courts or sheriff’s office. For example Miami Dade requires a 40.00 certified check made out to the Sheriffs dept.

Once you complete the petition and swear to the truthfulness of your statements, the petitions are notarized and sent to a judge or magistrate for review. He/she can deny the petition, set a hearing for within 10 days, or send out law enforcement to pick up the respondent for assessment/stabilization via emergency Ex Parte order.

The petitioner should be notified by mail and the respondent should be served, each must appear for the hearing. The respondent can request legal counsel and have a lawyer appointed when appropriate. Testimony will be taken to see if the criteria have been met. If so the Judge can order an assessment/stabilization or treatment.

3-5 days. The patient must then be either changed to voluntary status, discharged, or petition for involuntary treatment must be filed.

Upon assessment revealing the need for treatment, the judge can order up to 60 days of treatment.

Yes. Provided that the need for involuntary treatment continues to exist, an extension request can be filed no more than 10 days prior to the expiration of the original order. A hearing would then be set for no more than 15 days of filing. A judge can grant an extension for up to 90 days more days at that point.

It’s up to the judge but the idea is that non-compliance with a court order equates to contempt of court and is punishable by jail time. This is where the “teeth” or consequences are introduced for someone refusing to comply with the treatment plan. However, we have found that many counties do not enforce treatment orders with jail time.

The handbook says they are kept confidential and are not public record. However, we have had callers complain that there are multiple court orders on their record from when they were “Marchman Acted” that are now interfering with employment opportunities. If this is a concern for your family then we encourage you to seek legal counsel before filing.

Let’s face it, treatment isn’t free. The cost can be covered by health insurances or self payment. However, most counties have a state funded program that will work with the family or the patient on a sliding scale fee structure based on income and other factors. With that said, it is advisable that you research this before filing and make certain that treatment will be available within the county being filed in and that the fees can be paid.

NO. HIPPA laws state that unless a patient has signed releases for you, the provider can’t even confirm or deny if the patient is there (even when you know they are there).

There are a number of reasons a petition can be denied. The respondent doesn’t meet criteria, his/her behaviors are beyond safe management of the provider, treatment services are not available, or for lack of financial means to pay the cost of care.


We are not attorneys nor are we affiliated with the state of Florida. If you would like a referral to an attorney or would like to discuss alternative intervention strategies call now at 833-497-3808

Need help with a family member or friend? We can help!