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Mental Health




The probate court is given exclusive jurisdiction over matters involving involuntary hospitalization of persons determined to be mentally ill, and for appointing guardians for developmentally disabled persons.


The involuntary commitment process begins with the filing of a petition alleging that the subject of the petition is a person requiring treatment as a result of one of the following:


The person as a result of mental illness can reasonably be expected within the near future to intentionally or unintentionally seriously injure himself or others and who has engaged in an act or acts or made significant threats that are substantially supportive of the expectation.


The person, as a result of mental illness, is unable to attend to his/her basic physical needs such as food, clothing, or shelter. These needs must be attended to in order for the individual to avoid serious harm in the near future.


The person, as a result of mental illness, whose judgment is so impaired that he or she is unable to understand his or her need for treatment and whose continued behavior as a result of this mental illness can reasonably be expected, on the basis of competent clinical opinion, to result in significant harm to himself or others.

Two clinical evaluations must be completed to certify that the person is a person requiring treatment. If the alleged mentally ill person refuses to have an examination, the court, after hearing, may order the individual taken into protective custody and transported to a hospital for evaluation.

Upon receipt of the two clinical certificates stating the person is a person requiring treatment, the court will schedule a hearing and provide notice to all interested persons as provided by the mental health code. If after hearing the court finds the person to be a person requiring treatment, the court may order the person to be hospitalized, or to participate in an alternative treatment program, or a combination of both.

The court, upon the filing of a petition and conducting a hearing after proper notice, may also order admission of an individual 18 years or older who has been diagnosed as an individual with mental retardation and who can reasonably be expected within the near future to intentionally or unintentionally seriously physically injure himself or others. This proceeding is referred to as a Judicial Admission.


Upon filing of a petition alleging a person with a developmental disability is in need of a guardian and the required reports, after notice, the court shall conduct a hearing to determine if a guardianship is warranted and to determine the extent of the guardian’s powers. Guardianships for developmentally disabled persons may only be used to the extent necessary to promote and protect the well being of the individual, including protection form neglect, exploitation, and abuse. The court must take into account the individual’s abilities, and may only order the guardian’s powers to the extent necessitated by the individual’s actual mental and adaptive limitations. The guardianship must be designed to encourage the development of maximum self- reliance and independence in the individual. A plenary guardian has the legal powers and rights of a full guardian of the person, or the estate, or both. A partial guardian has fewer than all of the legal rights and powers of a plenary guardian, and those rights, powers, and duties will be specifically enumerated by court order. A partial guardianship is limited to a term of 5 years. At the expiration of the term, a new petition for guardianship may be filed to continue the guardianship. The guardian must annually file a report on the condition of the ward, and an account of any financial transactions made by the guardian involving the ward’s estate.


Since these legal proceedings can substantially affect the protected person’s rights as well as subject the guardian to personal liability, it is advisable to seek consultation with an attorney prior to instituting action.