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How does the Marchman Act process work?

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Hello, everyone! Welcome to another edition of our video newsletter.

In this video, I want to explain the steps and the process of a marching act. In other words, what happens from the time I get on the phone with the family until the case gets closed. I’m basically going to talk to you about Marchman, but this can also apply in theory to guardianship, and you should certainly talk to Audra, my partner, about that sort of stuff.

I’m going to talk about marching just for now. Typically, in both guardian and march, when we’re going to have a conversation with the family, it’s what we call triaging the case—in other words, getting the history of what’s been happening. Why has it been happening? What are the solutions they tried, and has it been successful? Has the person been to treatment? If so, how many times? How long did they stay? Did they relapse? What’s the longest they’ve ever stayed in recovery? It really sorts of a look-see for us lawyers to figure out if we can help you.

As you probably figured out by watching some of my videos, I’m going to be brutally honest with you and tell you if we can’t help you, even if you don’t like to hear that, I’m going to tell you the truth. We decide that this is a case that we could file, specifically a Marchman Act, and you as the family decide you want to retain us. Once we’ve taken care of the financials and you’ve signed our retainer agreement, I tell you that I’m going to do XYZ. I will put it in writing, and I will sell my name so that you are aware of what you’re getting and that you can expect from me.

Once that’s been taken care of, the first step in Marchman is to file a petition for assessment. That may or may not be done on an emergency basis. The court may or may not grant an emergency request and in terms of whether we file it as an emergency, meaning, without a hearing. That’s a conversation and a procedural issue we’ll discuss with you. If it’s an emergency, we’ve got to move quickly.

So, the first part of marketing is getting the assessment done. Without an assessment, there’s going to be no treatment ordered. The statute requires that the judge or the magistrate have an assessment in hand that basically tells them; I’ve done an assessment, this is the history, I’ve spoken to the person, I have drug tested them, and that I’m making a clinical recommendation for treatment.

The second part is treatment or getting the person to the treatment facility. That does require a hearing, and it has to have a hearing; that is why we will file a petition for treatment services. The first petition is a petition for assessment and stabilization. The second petition is for treatment services that tell the court clerk that the assessment has been done and now a hearing is needed. So we’re going to have a hearing and the clerk will set a specific date and time for it. Every county has one day a week where they conduct these hearings. If you’re in South Palm Beach county, then it’s going to be on a Wednesday. If you’re in North Palm Beach county, it will be Thursday. We file these cases in lots and lots of counties that have a specific designated day where they’re going to conduct the hearing. At the hearing, your loved one can say, “I’m going to go to treatment, and I understand that I need help.” The judge enters an order. Typically, it’s up to 90 days, and off they go. However, if they disagree, there’s going to be a small trial kind of hearing, and we’re going to present our testimony. At that point, the judge or the magistrate will determine whether or not they meet the criteria. During the triage process that I talked about, we’re going to make sure we have enough evidence and absent some technical deficiency because that person will get ordered into treatment anyway.

So, that’s the Marchman Act process in a nutshell. It’s a complicated thing, and for families that we’re working with, they’re going to have questions, and I’m always happy to answer them. I would also tell you that if you go to the website drugandalcoholattorneys.com, you’ll see a link to our ebook that I wrote if you scroll down on the front page. It’s only a 20-minute read, and I suggest that you download it. Why? Because it will explain the process of the Marchman Act and Guardianship.

I hope that helps; if you have any questions, feel free to reach out to us. With that said, stay safe and be well!

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