Mental Health

The Mental Health division of the Clerk’s Office is part of a larger Domestic Relation’s division.

The term “mental health” for our purposes, basically refers to several different types of filings in the Probate, Guardianship, and Mental Health divisions. Mental Health filings may include:

  • Ex parte and Petitions for Involuntary Placement cases
    • Baker Act cases
    • Marchman Act (Substance abuse) cases
  • Petitions to Determine Incapacity
    • These are filed in conjunction with a Petition for Appointment of Guardian and the petitioner is required to be represented by an attorney.
  • Petitions for Adult Protective Services
    • These are filed by the Florida Department of Children and Families and are usually filed on behalf of an elderly person whom they have reason to believe is in danger of being taken advantage of in some way.

Mental Health cases are most often filed “Ex parte” which basically means an interested or concerned outside party such as a family member or friend files a case on behalf of another person. There is no filing fee for any of the mental health filings except for the Petition to Determine Incapacity. Additionally, all types of proceedings filed under the broader category of “Mental Health” are confidential and are not public record.

For more information on the substance abuse and mental health please visit the Florida Department of Children and Families website at:

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I file for a Baker or Marchman Act on behalf of a family member or friend?
Ex Parte procedures for either Baker Act or Substance Abuse cases consist of a layperson, such as a family member or friend, filing a petition with the court to have someone taken to a mental health facility for evaluation and treatment. The person for which treatment is being sought is referred to as the “respondent”. To file a petition you will need to visit the Clerk’s Office at the Courthouse.

Who files “Involuntary Placement” cases?
Involuntary Placement cases are filed with the Clerk’s Office by mental health facilities that already have the respondent in their care. Generally these situations arise when physicians do not feel that the respondent is stable or competent enough to leave the facility without being a danger to him or herself or others. For the facility to legally keep the respondent in their care the court has to issue an order reflecting that decision.

What happens after an “Involuntary Placement” case is filed?
When a Petition for Involuntary Placement is filed it alerts the Clerk’s Office that there will be a hearing before a judge. The Clerk’s Office prepares and processes a “Notice of Hearing on Petition for Involuntary Placement” and the Public Defender’s Office is appointed to represent the respondent. In addition, the State Attorney’s Office is notified along with the Human Rights Advocacy Committee.

The hearings for these cases are attended by the judge, a mental health clerk, assistant public defender, a member of the Human Right Advocacy Committee, the attending physician, and other care providers for the respondent. Family members and/or close friends are also permitted at these hearings.

Upon hearing the testimony of the attending physician, case manager, and other associated health care professionals, a decision is made regarding the treatment of the respondent and an appropriate order is entered.

If you have any questions please call our office at 850-926-0301 or 850-926-0318.