Joe was dazzled by Paulina when he first saw her at the Harbor Club. She later hired him to investigate the circumstances surrounding her husband Jake's death. Joe came to the erroneous conclusion that Jake had been leaving Paulina before his death. This propelled her into Joe's arms, and Joe was quick to romance her with antipasto and corny jokes. After one date and one kiss, Joe proposed. He could be forgiven because at the time he was delirious from a gunshot wound. Yet Paulina accepted, and they arranged to get married.
Jake caught up with them just as they were about to exchange vows and brought a dramatic halt to the ceremony. The lies about Jake were dispelled and Paulina was on the verge of reuniting with Jake, when....
As much as she loved Jake, she also loved Joe, and she was tired of Jake's lies and schemes. When Jake tried to make Paulina believe he was coming on to another woman so he could get her jealous, Paulina saw Jake for what he was and always would be, a conniving liar. She left him and ran to Joe.
Soon after, Paulina discovered she was pregnant with Joe's baby. The two of them began planning their marriage and the arrival of their child. Their friends surprised them with an impromptu wedding. At the end of the ceremony Jake came forward and gave his blessing to the couple.
A month later, Paulina gave birth to their little bambino, Dante MacKenzie Carlino. She was stranded at the Cory cabin at the time, and Joe had to fly there in a police chopper.
Joe began taking a heavy-handed approach in his role of Sofia's older brother, and Paulina was upset at his treatment of Nick Hudson. She felt she was losing the kind, sweet Joe she had fallen in love with. Financial difficulties drove a wedge between them.
Joe was adamant that Paulina not
accept money from her family, and was forced into a high-stakes
poker game with Jake to win back his own restaurant.
Joe seemed to have one set of standards for himself and another for the rest of the world. He would blow his top when Paulina told the smallest fib. Despite his authoritarian, and sexist, behavior, Paulina remained devoted to him.
In 1996, Paulina found she hadn't lost the pregnancy weight after Dante was born. She was terrified that Joe would no longer love her. In 1997, she became hooked on diet pills in a desperate attempt to lose the extra weight. She kept it a secret from Joe, but he found out when the dangerous drugs gave her heart palpitations. Joe tried to convince her that her size made no difference to him, and pleaded with her not to take the pills anymore. She promised not to, but resumed taking them on the sly.
High on speed, Paulina ran down Kirkland with her car. Joe was a rock by her side, then and when she was subsequently committed for detoxification. She insisted on returning home despite not having seen the program through to its conclusion. Still unhappy with her life and her appearance, Paulina began drinking heavily. Everytime Joe broached the subject, she would lambaste him for his failure to trust her.
When she caused a small fire at Carlino's after mixing booze and pills, Paulina vowed to break her addiction. From that moment on she was clean. On New Year's Eve, Grant drugged Paulina and started a small fire at her home to discredit her as a possible witness against him at Kirkland's custody trial. The fire got out of hand and burned down the Carlino home. Joe was devastated to lose the homestead. He blamed Paulina, and refused to believe her when she insisted she hadn't been drinking that night. Joe desperately wanted to believe Paulina but felt Dante's safety was too important to risk. Hurt by Joe's lack of faith and trust in her, she separated from him.
Realizing he was about to lose his wife, Joe became determined to prove Paulina was innocent and began a closer investigation of Grant. Paulina, fearing that Joe was simply strengthening the case against her prepatory to suing for sole custody of Dante, fled with her son. Joe was desperate to find her, and even sacrificed his case against Grant in order to get Cindy to tell him where Paulina was holed up. Joe begged Paulina to believe in him, and even though Paulina's faith in him and their relationship was shaky, they reconciled.
In 1999, Paulina yet again lied to Joe when she discovered young punk Tito Banacek was her long-lost son. Joe's reluctance to accept Tito put a strain on their marriage. Joe broke a mess of rules, including committing manslaughter, to get her off when she confessed to killing Grant as he realized she was just trying to protect Tito. He was able to disabuse her of motherly feelings for Tito by uncovering Tito was just scamming her.
Joe and Paulina united with her true child, Remy Woods, and they and Dante made plans to build a house.