Her Jamaica-based business specializes in cases on custody, visitation, child support, guardianship and all matters related to family courts. She started her own practice in 1999, and has been an attorney since 1976.
“I love what I do,” she said. “I’ve been doing it a long time and I do it well.”
Gerner used to be an attorney for what was then called the Bureau of Child Welfare (BCW). Today, the agency is known as the Administration for Children’s Services (ACS).
She has seen both sides of the family court cases, including some horrible child abuse cases. But she has also represented many great clients who just want to spend more time with their children.
Gerner noted that the laws have changed in many ways compared to when she started. Back then, mothers were much more likely to win custody of their child. Today, fathers and even grandparents have as much of a chance.
“It’s in every child’s interest to have access to both their parents,” she said. “It’s better for the children. In many cases, it may be the father who has more to offer.”
The way family court administers decisions is different too. The court looks at the lifestyle of a parent and compare that to what the other parent has to offer.
Years ago, if one parent was gay or lesbian, he or she wouldn’t have a chance, Gerner said. That is different today.
“The court looks at the entire picture,” she said.
Gerner said her background and experience makes her confident when clients approach her for help.
“If an issue comes up, I’m not starting with a blank piece of paper,” she said.
Her favorite part about the job?
“It’s very rewarding when you help a client win,” Gerner said.