Interviewer: What would you say are some of the top misconceptions that people have about family law that you have to dispel?
Self-Representation versus Retaining an Attorney: Family Law Is a Complicated Area of the Law and Not a DIY Project
Wendy Doyle: I think there are a lot of misconceptions and a lot of confusion about it. People sometimes want to represent themselves in these cases. It’s a bad idea. It’s complicated. A common misconception is that the practice of family law is easy.
There’s a lot of competing factors. Sometimes there are criminal cases going on at the same time. It’s really complicated. I think the biggest misconception is that you can handle it yourself. There’s a lot to think about. There’s a lot that you have to guard against. I wish I could recommend that people represent themselves in family law cases.
Family Law Cases Are Usually Fraught with Emotion and That Impedes Decision-Making Skills
I’ve had people call me and ask questions about their cases. They come back and they fought. They have hurt their case and they’ve made a horrible mess out of it. When you’re thinking about handling a family law case yourself, your emotions are tied up in it and don’t think people can make good decisions.
Unfortunately, you marry one person and you divorce another person usually. I do have cases wind up settling, but people change when you’re going through a family law case. In a divorce case, people change. You see another side of them. That’s the hardest thing for people, seeing the other side of the person that you didn’t see when you had a child with that person or you married that person.
Men Are NOT Precluded from Having Custody of Their Children or Receiving Spousal Support
Here is a very big misconception. Men never think that they can get custody of their children. That blows my mind every time I hear that in today’s day and age. I have been able to obtain for many father’s custody of their child or children.
Along those lines, another big misconception is that men don’t like to ask for alimony, spousal support. I have been able to obtain husbands child and spousal support as well.
Interviewer: Is that more of a generational factor that leads them to avoid asking for support from their wives?
The Courts Will Decide on Custody Based on Which Parent Provides the Most Stable and Nurturing Environment and Do Not Look Solely at the Gender of the Custodial Parent
Wendy Doyle: No, young fathers are coming to me going, “I want my time sharing, but she’s abusive.” I’ll have to tell them, “Well, you’re entitled to custody. If there’s a cause or something like that, you need to apply for custody. Its about the statutory factors in chapter 61”. They look at me stunned. Then I get them custody.
The court is, I’m happy to say, when it comes to custody and child support—they really do not look at gender. They do not. None of judges are biased towards gender these days.