Florida Marchman Act
Is someone you know suffering from alcoholism or drug addiction? Are you struggling to get them help? If so, you need to know about the Florida Marchman Act.
When other efforts to help have failed, the Florida Marchman Act provides a legal intervention and pathway to recovery.
What is the Florida Marchman Act?
In short, The Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act is a Florida law that recognizes substance abuse as a major health problem. Substance abuse has a devastating effect on Florida families and our society. The Florida Marchman Act provides for voluntary and involuntary (court-ordered) intervention, treatment and recovery services. The goal is to discourage substance abuse and promote healthy lifestyles.
I believe my minor child is using alcohol and drugs. Can the Florida Marchman Act help?
The Marchman Act is an option for you to address your child’s use of alcohol and drugs. Without a court order, you can involuntarily admit your minor child into detox for assessment and referral for treatment.
However, getting your child to detox and through a drug and alcohol recovery program may require a court order to ensure compliance. The Marchman Act provides a legal process for court-ordered stabilization and assessment, and for court-ordered treatment for substance abuse. Also, the court may order the Sheriff to pick up your child and deliver them to a detox facility. The court can find your child in contempt for violating the order.
Is the Florida Marchman Act only for minor children?
No, the Marchman Act applies to adults as well whether they are your adult child, parent, spouse, significant other, relative, mother or father of your child, friend or co-worker.
Although the involuntary admission of a child without a court order described in the answer above does not apply to adults under the Marchman Act.
My husband knows he has a drinking problem, but he refuses to get help. How can the Marchman Act help?
The Marchman Act provides a legal process for court-ordered stabilization and assessment (detox), and for court-ordered treatment for substance abuse.
In other words, a court will make the decision whether help for drug and alcohol addiction is needed. If help is needed, the court will make orders for your husband to go to a drug and alcohol recovery center and complete a rehab program.
What if my husband does not follow the court order?
In some circumstances, the court will order the Sheriff to pick up a person and deliver them to a detox facility for stabilization and assessment.
If your husband refuses to obey a court order to complete a drug and alcohol recovery program, he can be put in jail. Given a choice between rehab and jail, what would you do?
How does the Marchman Act work, and will I have to go to court?
Getting a court order under the Marchman Act for stabilization and assessment, and for treatment, is a legal process.
The process begins with the filing of a petition by an adult who has direct personal knowledge of someone’s substance abuse. There will be hearings scheduled, and yes, you will need to be in court.
Do I need to hire a lawyer?
While you are not required to hire a lawyer, you should consider the following:
- The person you are trying to help has the right to a (court-appointed) lawyer. That lawyer will fight for them. That lawyer is not there to help you.
- You are filing a lawsuit that requires you to follow procedures and rules. Lawyers are trained to work within the legal process.
- A lawyer who has experience with the Marchman Act can inform and prepare you for what is to come. There will be bumps in the road, but a lawyer who has experience with the Marchman Act is familiar with the process and can more easily guide your case to conclusion.
- A lawyer experienced with the Marchman Act has insight into the nature of addiction and recovery. Your lawyer will help you determine the most appropriate drug and alcohol recovery center.
- You have a lot on your mind. Additionally, your loved one’s addiction is affecting your everyday life. A lawyer is your partner in preparing and presenting your case to the court.
- You are filing a petition under the Marchman Act because someone you love and care about is experiencing a serious life crisis. A lawyer experienced with the Marchman Act will give you a better chance for a positive outcome.
Is there a cost for treatment?
There are many options for drug and alcohol addiction recovery centers. Many private addiction rehab centers accept insurance, Medicaid, or self-pay. Other rehab facilities may accept a pay scale or reduced payment based on income. In addition, there are state-funded drug and alcohol recovery centers available for persons without the ability to pay for treatment.
Who decides where the treatment will take place?
The person to receive substance abuse treatment has the right to choose an addiction treatment center or program. However, if the chosen rehab center is not financially possible or otherwise appropriate, the court will determine where substance abuse treatment will take place.
It is important to come to court with a plan and recommendation for a drug and alcohol recovery treatment center.
Does the Marchman Act guarantee that my loved one will be free from substance abuse?
The Marchman Act can help to get someone into detox, have an assessment, and receive treatment for drug and alcohol addiction. Although, how a person responds to treatment can determine their long-term recovery.
Hopefully, a person will maintain a drug-free lifestyle upon completion of a drug and alcohol treatment program. However, that is not always the case. The recovery cycle from drug and alcohol addiction or dependency varies from person to person.
What happens if substance abuse treatment is unsuccessful, or after treatment for drug and alcohol addiction, the substance abuse starts again?
Persons with drug and alcohol dependency deny and minimize their use of drugs and alcohol, and the consequences of their use. Your resolve and commitment to getting help for your loved one need to match the power of their drug and alcohol addiction.
It is not unusual for a drug and alcohol addict to achieve sobriety and be in recovery, only to relapse and begin using drugs and alcohol again. There is no limit to the number of Marchman Act petitions that can be filed seeking help for any individual, nor are there any court filing fees to do so.
Serving Families Throughout Central Florida
Offices in Polk County with convenient access to courts in Hardee, Highlands, Hillsborough, Lake, Orange, Osceola, and Pasco counties.
Paul E Perrin, P.A.
Edward Jones Building
150 3rd Street SW
Winter Haven, FL 33880