Families affected by the disease of addiction face an uphill battle to convince the addict that treatment is necessary. Interventions can, and may work, but sometimes a family must take the proverbial bull by the horns and compel their loved one into treatment by taking advantage of the Marchman Act process. You may, however, have questions about the Marchman Act and how it can help you to get your loved one into treatment and long term recovery.
Typically, initially, the respondent is not going to know, because it’s a confidential filing. However, the respondent is entitled to receive notice of the hearing. After the petition is filed, it’s been reviewed, and a hearing has been set, the respondent has to receive notice. Typically it’s done by either a process server, if you’re using a private lawyer, or if you’re doing it yourself, then the court is going to send out the local sheriff or law enforcement officer to serve that person with a copy of the notice of hearing and the summons, the court order mandating them to come before the court and answer to the petition.
Typically, under the Marchman Act, the respondent is going to be responsible for the cost of care. If the respondent is somebody who is indigent, in other words, they’re not an affluent wealthy person who doesn’t have private health insurance, then in all likelihood, if the assessment recommends treatment, they’re going to be sent to a county provider for substance abuse treatment.
If, however, they have private insurance or they are independently wealthy, then they can go to a private facility which may provide them with a better level of care. Again, if you’re using an attorney to file the petition, that attorney’s typically, hopefully, going to use a court-certified interventionist who can make the best recommendation, so the respondent gets the best level of treatment regardless of whether or not they have insurance or are able to pay out of pocket for treatment.
The Marchman Act statute provides for several different types of individuals to be able to file a petition. It could be three friends. It could be family. It could be a spouse. It could be a legal guardian. It could even be a licensed practitioner. Any of those individuals can file a petition with the court asking that the court order somebody to come in before the court to be assessed, to be stabilized and ultimately to undergo substance abuse treatment.
When dealing with somebody who’s under the age of 18 years of age, the Marchman Act statute provides that a parent or a legal guardian or a licensed practitioner can petition the court and ask the court to intervene and order that the minor be assessed, be stabilized and ultimately be treated under the Marchman Act to address their substance abuse issue.
If you’re going to petition the court under the Marchman Act statute without use of an attorney, you would have to go down to the clerk of court’s office, fill out the petition, have it notarized, swear that it’s the truth, and then wait to see if the court is going to grant you a hearing. If you use an attorney, the attorney can assist you to draft the petition, help you to get it notarized, and then the attorney will e-file it, or electronically file it, through the Florida e-file portal so you won’t have to go down to the clerk of court. Once that’s done, the clerk of court will then notify the attorney when and if there’s going to be a hearing.
Under the Marchman Act, the court can order somebody, the respondent, into treatment for up to 90 days. However, if it’s determined that that 90-day period is insufficient to address the substance abuse issue, additional 90-day increments of treatment can be ordered by the court.
The Marchman Act is a process, a legal procedure that allows friends and family to petition the court on behalf of somebody who has a substance abuse issue that they’re not able to control, and that is affecting their life. They can ask the court to intervene and order that person to become assessed and stabilized and hopefully treated if it’s necessary, so that the substance abuse issue can be addressed and treated.
An ex-parte petition is where only one side initially is being heard. The petitioner files their petition. The court reviews it for legal sufficiency without yet hearing from the respondent. Once the court makes the determination that the ex-parte petition is legally sufficient, then and only then is the respondent notified that there’s going to be a hearing and given the opportunity to come down and contest the allegations that have been made in the petition.
Well first of all, under the Marchman Act Statute, there is no fee to file a Marchman Act petition. However, if the respondent cannot afford treatment, or typically, if the person is indigent, and the court makes a determination, then they’re going to be court-ordered to a county facility, where there will not be a cost or a fee associated with treatment. The idea being that we want to treat people even if and despite the fact they may have financial issues.