Call us 24/7
Free Consult (During office hours) 855-429-0074

What is the Marchman Act?

As Seen On
  • abc
  • cbs
  • nbc
  • Florida Bar
  • The Miami Herald
  • Tampa Bay Times
  • msnbc


Hello, everyone, and welcome back! I want to talk to you about the Marchman Act and answer the very important question in this video. “What is the Marchman Act?”

The Marchman Act is a unique statute to Florida that empowers you to decide for your loved one they cannot make. If they have a substance use disorder and co-occurring mental illness, you can make the decision to put them into treatment even though they don’t want to go. It’s a two-step process; the first part is the assessment and the second part is treatment. The assessment period can be initiated one of two ways. The first is on an emergency basis, which means we’re going to get a court order and have a judge issue an order allowing the police to come and get your loved one. It can also be done on a non-emergency basis, which means there will be a hearing. We have to show a reasonable basis for wanting to get your loved one assessed.

In reality, nine out of ten cases come in as an emergency and as I joked in the past, no one wants to call a lawyer. They certainly don’t want to give us any money, so we’re typically the last protocol. When clients call us, they ask us to do something that should have been done days ago. This is the reality of what we deal with. We’re happy and flattered when families call us for help. So, the first part of this is to get your loved one assessed within five days when your loved one will be held somewhere. The five-day period can be extended when we file for part two. Part one is the emergency petition for assessment stabilization and the second part is a petition for treatment services. That is to request a hearing before the judge because your loved one has to be afforded their rights to due process, to a hearing, and counsel. Also, at that point, your loved one can either go to treatment for up to 90 days, or you will have to testify against your loved one. I know that’s an uncomfortable thing. I’ve sat there with many moms, dads, and spouses who are trying to get help for their loved ones, and it’s not a pleasurable experience.

Typically those hearings take a couple of hours at most and it’s like a small trial. It’s confidential and unless you’re a party to the proceeding, you don’t get to come in and watch. It’s not open to the public. If we prove our case by clear and convincing evidence, your loved one’s going to be sent for a treatment facility you can designate unless they have a better alternative for up periods of up to 90 days. That means the facility has discretion, not only how long to keep your loved one but on what level of care. Is it residential or partial hospitalization? Is it some outpatient? The person normally begins in residential or partial hospitalization, and they may step down.

What’s great about the Marchman Act is that it allows us to extend the treatment period. If we get a court order for up to 90 days before the 80th day, we can follow a petition for an extension. As long as we can establish that the person still needs treatment services, we can get a court to issue an order for up to another 90 days. From my practical experience, most of our clients work with us for about six months, so if you hire us, you’re hiring us for a minimum of 90 days. I’m going to get you a 90-day court order because we want to be on board with this thing. We want to go on the journey with you because we know from experience, this is just the beginning of the journey. If we’re long over along for the ride, that helps make the process a little smoother, which is one of the reasons my phone’s answered 24/7.

The recovery is almost like the stock market. It’s not a straight line. It tends to get you to know things get better over time, but it can be a rough journey. We want to make sure that the journey is as smooth as possible. We are here to hold your hand through the process.

So, the Marchman Act chapter 397 is one of my favorite topics. If you want to talk to us about getting your loved one into treatment, feel free to reach out to us. You can email me, call me, or message me through the website. I’m on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and other social media platforms; you can find me. We’re here to help, and this is what we do. It’s all we do. Thanks for tuning in. See you in the next video.

    100% Confidential