How can families of addicts turn to Florida’s Marchman Act? This article will answer this question and go over the provisions of the Marchman Act, but before you take this drastic step, you may want to exhaust all other options. A Marchman will be emotionally and financially draining and will forever change your relationship with your loved one. You must be honest with yourself: Are you filing this for your loved one or for yourself? Do you see the Marchman as a way to let someone else deal with the problem for awhile, or are you doing this because you think it’s best for this person? No one likes to be forced to do anything.
Even if your petition is successful and the person is forced into treatment, there is no guarantee it will do any good. You cannot force your loved one to actually benefit from the treatment and they may not. Are you willing to risk permanently alienating your loved one? They may refuse to ever speak to you again. On the other hand, they may be grateful. There is no way to know ahead of time. By the same token, once you begin a court proceeding for a Marchman or anything else, control of the situation will move to the court. They will be the ones making important decisions for your loved one, not you. If you’re sure your loved one is a threat to themselves or others, and you have tried everything else to no avail, filing a Marchman is an option. Just be sure it’s the right one.
You can always try a professional intervention first. Some of these interventions also offer help with a Marchman should the intervention fail at a far less cost than an attorney would charge.
The Right to File
The right to file a Marchman petition is limited to a child, parent, sibling or spouse. Otherwise, it requires three non-related persons to file together. You should hire an attorney because it’s easy to make a mistake resulting in a dismissal. Your loved one will have a court-appointed attorney for free, which is another good reason to hire an attorney. You will also be responsible for making payment arrangements for all treatment costs. That is, if the judge agrees with you and grants your request. The petition itself is free to file.
Your petition must be completed correctly and submitted to the court nearest the one where your loved one lives. You must provide proof for everything you allege, and it must be convincing. The judge isn’t going to order involuntary treatment without strong evidence of good cause. Your loved one’s attorney will also be fighting to get the case dismissed, and you may be unpleasantly surprised at how easy this can be, especially if you don’t have your own attorney.
The Court Hearing
After you file the petition, you must arrange for the addicted person to be served with it. You can have someone who isn’t a party to the case do it, or you can pay a process server. Once it’s served, you must file proof of service with the court. No one can be held accountable for appearing at a hearing they knew nothing about. If a served person fails to appear at the hearing, the court can issue an arrest warrant to guarantee their appearance at a future hearing. At the hearing, the judge will determine if your claims are valid or not. If the judge agrees with your petition, they will order the person into a treatment evaluation. This will generally be at a court-approved treatment facility.
The next step is up to the facility. They will conduct a thorough evaluation of the person and submit their findings to the court. These findings may say that the person needs inpatient or outpatient treatment. They could also say that the person should receive only involuntary treatment, which would moot the Marchman, anyway. The rehab may also say no treatment is needed. This process generally takes about a week, but the rehab can request more time.
The judge will generally accept the facility’s recommendations as fact and act accordingly. If involuntary treatment is indicated by the rehab, the judge will decide how long it will last. Typically, this will be either 60 or 90 days.
We Can Help
You have learned here about the Marchman Act, and we can help you with it. However, there may be a better way. Just call us at 833-497-3808 anytime for professional assistance with a loved one’s drug problem. We’re here to give hope and help.