Family Law

Family is the most essential entity in the life of a person. Laws pertaining to this indispensable entity are crucial and sensitive. From property disputes to divorce and child custody, the metropolitan families are plagued by a plethora of issues. The American state family law is intricate and exhaustive, addressing the everyday issues interwoven with the familial ties of its residents. It is essential for its citizens to be aware of the details regarding these various issues. As we walk you through the essentials of family law, your queries about the same will be addressed.

Family law comprises of a large number of statutes that aids various legal matters called codes. The prevalence of these codes such as family code, domestic relations code, marital and children’s code is very essential for taking effective legal decisions.

Lawyers specializing in various issues like elder law, probate, guardianship and family planning are available to serve the public in Volusia County, New Smyrna Beach, Port Orange and Daytona.


With lifestyle changes, one of the major issues that is encountered by many is the dissolution of marriages. It is a sensitive issue that requires to be handled with extreme care and caution. The state marital law in America is comprehensive with provision for no-fault divorce as well as fault-divorce based on abandonment, cruelty and others. The state law also specifies that marriage is considered void if either party are not eligible, or are mentally unsound.

Child support and custody

With the rising divorce rate, related issues like child custody and support come into play. Joint and sole custody are offered to parents in case of divorce. In most scenarios, one parent is not given prevalence over the other. But under unique circumstances, the law – “Tender Years Doctrine” – enables the court to give custody to the mother. In these situations the court rules in the favor of the mother because it considers the child’s future to be more secure.  Child support is equally important if both the parents do not have legal custody. It is the minimum amount that the non-possessory parent should provide to the possessory parent to secure the child’s future. Matters like health insurance and life insurance are also to be considered under this law. Child support is usually terminated post the child turns 18.

Domestic violence

In the recent times domestic violence is no longer uncommon in society. Many are forced to deal with the evils of domestic violence. It not only includes harassment of adults but also child abuse. Protective orders are issued by the court in these scenarios. Statute laws are also available that enable law enforcement agencies to ensure that court orders are being followed. Laws are also available that enable medical professionals to report domestic violence to authorities. Each state has specific protocol to deal with child abuse and neglect.

Estate planning

Irrespective of being wealthy or poor, planning about one’s property is of paramount importance. Various tools like wills, trusts, powers of attorney, healthcare directive, living wills,  unmarried or same sex partner planning and others are available to safeguard one’s rights.


Old age and disability necessitates the existence of the Elder law. Elder-law -planning, helps people deal with various problems regarding property management. Issues such as the status of assets if one of the spouses require long term care or is incapacitated and others are dealt with. These laws help the old and those dealing with disabilities effectively manage their property issues.

Family law is a state issue. The codes and statutes are unique to every state in America. It is essential for every citizen to be aware of these various laws to enrich their quality of life.

To contact attorney Debra G. Simms, P.A. in Port Orange or New Smyrna Beach, FL please call 877.447.4667.

I know from experience that parenting is the toughest job there is and being a single parent can be even tougher. In addition to the responsibility for one’s child, an unmarried parent may often find themselves in conflict with the child’s other parent.  If you are a single parent,  you might need legal help in understanding your rights, especially when it comes to the complexities of paternity law.
In addition to dealing with paternity disputes (for example, the identity of the child’s father is in question), an experienced family law attorney can help with other issues such as child support and time-sharing.  The issues may be more complex when one of the parents lives outside of the state.  A long distance parenting and time-sharing plan should be put in place to assure that your child has the love and presence of both parents throughout their lives.
If you are a single parent in need of help with paternity issues, contact my office for a consultation.  The paternity laws are complex.  You may need an experienced family attorney on your side.
Debra G. Simms

Sometimes the relationship between an unmarried mother and father falls apart before the child is born. In such a case, either parent may be forced to turn to the Courts to determine paternity and child support. Can a party file a paternity action before the child is even born?

In Florida, the law is clear that a Mother may file an action in the Circuit Court to determine who is the Father of her child. A “Paternity Action” under Florida Statues may be filed by the Mother both before the Child is born (while pregant) and after the child is born.

A possible Father may file an action in Court at any time after the child is born. It is not so clear whether the Father has the ability to file an action before the child is born. The Florida statute is silent on this issue. But this interpretation may very well raise constitutional concerns. Specifically, does this Statute violate the Equal protection clause of the US and Florida Constitutions?

OK, so, what happens if dad fears that mom might leave the state before or after the child is born? Does he have to wait? Should he wait?

Here’s where it gets complicated. Fathers not only have to look to Florida law, but also Federal Law – The Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Enforcement Act (UCCJEA) mandates that the paternity action must be brought in the child’s Home State. But, the Act defines a child as an individual who has not reached the age of 18. Can an “individual” be an unborn child?

So, if Mom decides to leave and “go home” to another State where her family resides before the child is born, then the Father may very well lose jurisdiction in Florida and would be forced to file in the new state. In such a case, the Father may have been wise giving it a shot in Florida. Who knows, Mom might consent to Florida jurisdiction or file a counter petition which would clear up any jurisdictional issues. The Father’s worst case scenario would merely be a dismissal of the action.

Debra G. Simms

Contact Us

Port Orange Office:
Prestige Executive Center
823 Dunlawton Ave. Unit C
Port Orange, FL 32129
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667
New Smyrna Beach Office:
817 E. 7th Ave
New Smyrna Beach FL, 32169
Local: 386.256.4882
Toll Free: 877.447.4667