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FOR
the past three decades, Gerald “Jerry” Kornreich has been a
powerful advocate for the children of South Florida, helping clients
become better parents, enlisting attorneys to serve as guardians at
litem and providing holiday meals and toys to families in need.
“I love practicing family law, because you can do so much good
for other people,” says Kornreich, managing partner at Kornreich
& Associates, Miami.

FOR
“I’m a litigator who has spent my whole life
seeking to have peaceful results for family and children.”
Board certified in marital and family law, Kornreich specializes in
high-conflict cases, trying to keep families from being torn apart. He
also handles paternity, prenuptial agreements, child support, custody
and alimony matters. In virtually every situation, he tries to keep
parents focused on the interests of their children.
“Just as spouses need to communicate with each other, parents
should listen to their kids and give them the time they need.
“Unfortunately, many professionals are so busy all the time with work
that they lose touch with their children. To save time, they just tell
their kids what to do, rather than take a cooperative approach. When
I have clients who are going through a divorce, I try to find helpful
resources for the parents and educate them on how they can do a
better job in the future.”
AN INSPIRATIONAL MOTHER
Born in Brooklyn, Kornreich grew up on Miami Beach, where
he enjoyed watching courtroom shows like “Perry Mason” and
learning important lessons in life from his mother Sayde Swire. A
Czechoslovakian who fled to the U.S. from Germany to escape the
Holocaust, she became an active volunteer in South Florida while
raising Kornreich and his two brothers David and Leonard. “Despite
her hardships, she was always teaching that giving of oneself is the
highest calling,” Kornreich said. “She has been an inspiration to all
who have met her.”
Sayde Swire’s strong family values and quest for justice also rang
a chord with David Kornreich, who became a board-certified labor
law attorney and long-time partner at Fisher & Philips before passing
away in April. While Kornreich’s wife Chinya is not an attorney,
his daughter Amber is a student at Florida International University
College of Law, and may decide to join her father’s firm in the future.
Kornreich earned his law degree in 1974 at the University of
Miami, where he participated in a summer international law program
with University of Exeter Law School in England. He has a bachelor’s
degree in political science from American University. “A lot of us
who went to law school at that time were very engaged in politics, and
making a difference in the world,” he says.
After joining the Bar, Kornreich went into practice with a former
judge in a storefront office on Hialeah’s “Main Street” (W. 49th Street).
“Our office was a house on the street with a small desk for me, and we
handled every type of case that walked into through the door,” Kornreich
recalls. “I did criminal law, divorce work and all kinds of litigation. “
In the early 1980s, Kornreich was asked to represent children in cases
handled by Juvenile Court Judge Ralph Ferguson. It was a key moment
in Kornreich’s career, and he still recalls Ferguson’s philosophy: “Always
remember it will be for the children. Always help the children.”
Kornreich took that advice to heart and in 1984 he became the
youngest attorney in Florida to be board certified in marital and family
law. Back then the divorce process was largely adversarial and cases
that couldn’t be settled easily had to be resolved in court. “I was one
of the first marital lawyers who pushed for mediations in every case,”
says Kornreich. “Alternative dispute resolution usually produces better
results for the parents and their children.”
Today, Kornreich is a proponent of having two mediation sessions,
beginning with a preliminary meeting in the first four to six weeks of
the case. “The purpose is to lower the emotions and get both parties to
sit down and talk,” he says. “It’s had a beneficial effect in every one of
my cases.” A second mediation can then occur further down the road
in an attempt to settle the outstan
ding issues and avoid a costly trial.
“I love going to court, and I’ve tried as many cases as anyone, but each
year I’ve noticed fewer trials, because there are more effective ways to
resolve marital issues,” he says. “People understand that with mediation
they have more control over their own lives.”
Looking at trends in family law, Kornreich expects Florida to legalize
same-sex marriages in the next few years, following the lead of other
states. “That will be a big help to same-sex couples who currently have
legal and financial issues related to ownership of property and other
assets,” he says. “It will also lead to an increase in divorce cases as well.”
One of Kornreich’s proudest accomplishments was handling the
appeal of a gay father in the 2009 “two moms and two dads” case
involving two same-sex couples. One of the mothers wanted to raise
a child with her partner, and one of the gay fathers agreed to help her
conceive. After the baby boy was born, the mom and her partner moved
to California with a devastating emotional impact on the two dads who
wanted to stay involved in the child’s life. Kornreich represented the dad
pro bono, and in the end the case was resolved with a settlement that
resulted in the little boy having three legal parents, plus a step-dad.