By Sheryl Young
Attorneys Heath Denoncourt and Amy Warenyk of the firm Denoncourt & Warenyk, P.A. Attorneys at Law, defy the typical “meet you in the courtroom” stereotype. They like to be accessible to their clients beyond the normal call of duty, and believe this sets them apart from the myriad of law firms in the New Tampa/Wesley Chapel area.
Denoncourt & Warenyk specializes in family law and bankruptcy. The firm also handles estate planning, foreclosure defense and insurance claims. Most of these areas deal with extremely difficult issues.
“Family law is a very sensitive area for people,” says Warenyk, who handles the divorce aspect, including child custody arrangements and financial settlements. “You’ve got family members who’ve known each other all their lives, children involved, relatives preparing to sue each other…it’s not like suing anyone else.” Warenyk also takes on delicate domestic abuse cases.
Denoncourt, who deals with bankruptcy, foreclosure, estate planning and insurance clients, says his cases also demand sensitivity.
“These situations can be very intimidating,” he explains. “Some people, for example, in bankruptcies, never meet their attorney until they walk into a courtroom and someone flags them down. We don’t work through paralegals here. We have two receptionists in our office. That’s it, except that we may contract other people to help in cases where we have extreme workloads. But, we are always the face to our clients.”
And that’s just how the two lawyers like it. Heath and Amy met while working for a mid-size law firm together, and each found out that the other longed to offer clients a more personal type of interaction. So, they joined forces to start their own practice. They’ve been in their current location in the Palm Lake at Tampa Palms Office Building on Amberly Dr. for the entire life of their firm, which will celebrate its fourth anniversary in January of next year.
Denoncourt was born in Saginaw, MI, but received his Juris Doctor (JD) degree from the Florida State University College of Law in Tallahassee in 2002. He’s been a member of the Florida Bar since 2003.
Warenyk hails from Abington, PA. She graduated Cum Laude with her JD degree from the Stetson University College of Law in Gulfport, FL, in 2004, and joined the Florida Bar that same year.
But, their passion for what they do goes far beyond any documents on the walls in their office.
“When I went through law school, we focused on alternative solutions, to help clients solve problems without ending up in court,” Warenyk states. “I still work hard at that. Here, we often act as mediators, even as counselors. Mediation outside the courtroom can save a lot of time, money and stress. It promotes a much less adversarial atmosphere.”
She adds, “When it’s between family members, the more infighting there is, the tougher it is on all parties. And, judges don’t like to see two attorneys causing more issues than there were to begin with. So, helping people goes way beyond the money for us. On occasion, the families even come back together.”
“Some attorneys set up a high-volume practice,” adds Denoncourt. “They have to hand off their work to others in their firm. We’re much more hands-on.”
Alyson & Jeffrey Andrews, who became clients while raising their niece and nephew, can attest to that.
Alyson says, “We needed help obtaining guardianship of the children. Amy made it very quick and simple. She got our information and did much of the paperwork. We met to go over everything. All we had to do was get to the courtroom.”
Warenyk notes, “We will even help people figure out how to get to court, where’s the best place to park…basically hold their hands through the whole process.”
The firm already gets most of its business through word-of-mouth, and they believe it’s because of the partners’ personal handling.
For example, Denoncourt states that, because they don’t put their money into billboards or other expensive advertising, they’re able to keep their costs low.
“In this economy, we recognize that all people who can’t keep up their mortgage, or are failing to make various kinds of court settlement payments,” he says. “They just don’t have lump sums of money to hand out. They’re not ‘deadbeats.’ Times are hard. We keep our prices low, and we help clients with payment plans.”
In the case of foreclosures, he adds, “The homeowners by themselves can’t get a bank to renegotiate their mortgage payments rather than foreclose. We can help families stay in their homes for an extended time, maybe even until they get back on their feet.”
Since they work such different kinds of cases, do their clients ever overlap? “Of course, we share some clients,” explains Amy. “For example, when a family’s financial issues in my family law case must end up in a bankruptcy, Heath steps in.”
Denoncourt adds, however, that, “Bankruptcy doesn’t have the same negative stigma it once had. Although some businessmen or organizations may abuse the system, certain types of bankruptcy can help people survive financially and retain their property.”
Denoncourt says he handles all three major types of bankruptcy cases, including Chapter 7, which wipes out all debt because there are no assets to liquidate; Chapter 11, which is a reorganization filing used mostly for businesses; and Chapter 13, which protects assets and income by allowing a person to pay back a portion of their debt from what’s considered disposable income after their expenses.
First consultations are always free at Denoncourt & Warenyk. The partners encourage people to speak with lawyers who give free consultations.
“It’s a good way to start putting together the facts needed for their cases, no matter what firm they end up with,” Warenyk concludes.
Denoncourt & Warenyk, P.A., Attorneys at Law, is located at 15310 Amberly Dr., Suite 250, in the Palms Lake at Tampa Palms office building, and serves the needs of those in New Tampa, Wesley Chapel and other nearby communities. Call 514-2860, or visit DenoncourtLaw.com.