Interviewer: What are the main components of family law that you handle in your practice?
Wendy Doyle: I handle divorce and handle paternity cases, which would include parentage, custody and child support. In divorce cases, it’s going to be alimony, custody, determining child support and equitable distribution, which is distributing the assets and liabilities of a marriage.
Some Family Law Divorce Cases May Involve an Incident of Domestic Violence
Interviewer: Do you work with cases that involve domestic violence?
Wendy Doyle: Yes, I do handle domestic violence cases. Sometimes domestic violence is a part of your divorce case or other family relationship. Sometimes domestic violence will happen and then the parties enter into a divorce case. I do handle domestic violence cases by them.
Family Law Practice Also Includes Cases of Juvenile Dependency, Where the State May Remove Children from a Home or Begin to Monitor Their Care in the Home
I also handle juvenile dependency cases where the state comes in and says you’ve neglected or abused your children. We’re going to take your children and put them in foster care or we’re going to leave the children with you and open a case and make you work on a case plan to improve the parenting.
I was formerly a guardian ad litem attorney for 2 and a half years here in Pinellas County. I’m extremely familiar with the whole juvenile dependency system. Now, I represent private parents in juvenile dependency to help them get through the system.
An Attorney with a Background as a Guardian Ad Litem Attorney Has Solely Represented the Interests of a Child
The guardian ad litem is the voice of the child. They are there specifically to represent the best interest of a child or children, different from an attorney ad litem who represents the child.
Basically, we were the voice of the children to make sure that their placements were going well. If they were in another placement, we work towards reunification. If they stayed with their parents, we monitored the home life.
Handling Domestic Violence Cases
Interviewer: In cases involving domestic violence, do you work with restraining or no contact orders as well?
Ex Parte Temporary Injunction: After an Incident of Domestic Violence, the Individual Can Apply for an Initial Petition of Protection
Wendy Doyle: The process starts after an incident of domestic violence. The abused party can go down to the clerk and say I’ve been abused. You file an initial petition. You have to sign an affidavit in front of the clerk. The judge takes a look at it and sees if you have a prima facie case or an injunction.
Then they may enter an ex parte temporary injunction. Then you get what is called a return hearing. That’s when the court, within 2 weeks, will take testimony and evidence to see if the injunction should be continued. People will hire me either for the initial injunction; say if I’m representing the petitioner. Sometimes people are served with the restraining order and then I represent them in a return hearing. That’s one way it comes about.
Some Orders Are Granted in Conjunction with Divorce Proceedings
Recent Changes in Family Law
Interviewer: Are there any significant changes in family law within the past five years that people may be unaware of?
Establishment of Paternity and E-Filing
Wendy Doyle: Disestablishment of paternity is something new. As an attorney, you have to watch constantly for changes to the law. We also have E-filing now. That was a big change. When I started doing this, we still were using typewriters. It’s changed a lot in the last 20 years in particular due to technology.
Primary and Secondary Custodians Are Archaic Terms: The Courts Now Encourage Equal Parenting after a Divorce
Just in the last few years, where children are involved in. We have to have a parenting plan. When it came to custody, there used to be only a primary custodian and secondary custodian. Legislatures said, “Oh no, we’re going to change that.” I agree with that.
Whenever somebody was called the secondary parent, there was this presumption that they were somehow less of a parent due to this designation. Now it’s paring partners and it’s time sharing. The law changes constantly, I will say that.
If you need a family law attorney in Pasco County, Florida, Pinellas or Hernando County, Florida, call the family law office of Doyle & McCabe. With two locations to serve you we represent clients who need a family law lawyer in and around Hudson, Spring Hill, Brooksville, New Port Richey, Dunedin, Clearwater, Largo, St. Petersburg, Florida.