Resolving Complex Marital and Family Law Matters
Shared values, mutual respect, complementary skills and a focus on client service have guided the professionals at Bluestein and Wayne, P.A. for more than 25 years. As a result, the boutique Coral Gables law firm has a well-earned reputation for handling complex divorces and other marital and family law matters for corporate executives, business owners, attorneys, doctors, professional athletes, investors, and their spouses.
“We have a very clear philosophy based on the golden rule,” said Harold Bluestein, who co-founded the Coral Gables firm in 1989 and is board-certified in marital and family law firm. “We believe in treating people the way we would like to be treated. That’s one reason our clients and other attorneys refer major cases to us, and why we have such long tenures in our firm.”
Co-founder Barry Wayne, who is also board certified in marital and family law, says the partners’ academic backgrounds in accounting and finance are important factors in resolving tangled divorces among high-net-worth individuals. "We understand how to read complex financial statements, balance sheets and tax returns," he said. "We also know when to engage forensic accountants to dig into the finances on a deeper level."
The firm’s third principal, Hugo Acebo, spent more than a decade prosecuting criminal matters, including domestic violence and healthcare fraud cases before joining Bluestein and Wayne in 2003. "My experience with fraudulent financial issues and criminal matters contributes to the well-rounded perspective we bring to each marital dissolution case.“
While the firm has represented high-profile CEOs, civic leaders and sports and entertainment celebrities – and their spouses – Bluestein and Wayne’s partners respect their client’s privacy. “We treat these sensitive marital and family matters with discretion,” said Bluestein. “Our clients value their privacy and we respect their wishes.”
Three experienced partners
Looking back on a legal career spanning more than four decades, Bluestein says, "I always wanted to be a lawyer." He grew up in South Florida, and earned a bachelor's degree with a concentration in accounting and a juris doctor with honors from the University of Miami. He was a member of the executive board of the University of Miami Law Review, and was inducted into Iron Arrow, the university’s highest honor society.
After joining the Bar in 1975, Bluestein handled divorce, torts and other types of litigation cases for a small trial firm. After five years, he left to open his own firm, and began focusing his practice on family law matters. He later joined Broad and Cassel's Miami office as a litigation partner, and stayed five years. "I decided that I didn't want to be in a big firm environment, so I opened this firm in 1989 with Barry, who I had hired at Broad and Cassel," he said.
Wayne followed a similar path into law, earning a bachelor's degree in economics and a concentration in accounting from Rutgers University, and his juris doctor from University of Florida, where he was a member of the Justice Campbell Thornal National Moot Court Board and served on the Honor Court.
"I knew I wanted to practice litigation, and learning accounting – the language of business – would be very helpful to me and my clients," Wayne said. "I started working with Harold on matrimonial matters after I passed the bar in 1986, and three years later I joined him at our firm."
Both Bluestein and Wayne have served on The Florida Bar's Marital and Family Law Certification Committee and are members of the American Association for Justice, as well as other professional organizations.
Acebo grew up in Miami and earned his law degree from Florida State University. He had interned with the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office, and joined the office full time after law school. After six years, he became a Specially Designated Assistant Statewide Prosecutor in the Office of the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit and an Assistant Statewide Prosecutor at the Office of Statewide Prosecution. In those roles, he led investigations involving health care fraud, money laundering, organized criminal fraud and other financial crimes.
"After 10 years of government work, I decided to take the plunge and join Harold and Barry in private practice," he said. "It's worked out very well, as we make a great team." Acebo is also a member of the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Committee on Professionalism and involved in business and legal organizations, including the Miami-Dade Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and the Cuban American Bar Association.
The firm's two other attorneys are Donna Tucker, who has been with the firm for more than 17 years, and Harold's daughter, Lauren Bluestein, who joined in 2012. "Both Donna and Lauren are valued members of our legal team," said Bluestein. "We also have a great staff who have been with us for many years contributing to the stability of our practice."
While the partners at Bluestein & Wayne typically handle their own cases, they also share their insights and experiences. “We know that every individual faces a unique set of issues, so it makes sense to have a ‘point person’ for each case,” Wayne said. “At the same time, we collaborate as a team, bringing our different perspectives to bear on the situation. There's a good reason we don't practice alone."
Bluestein notes that the firm keeps a low case count, rather than trying to build a high-volume practice. That allows the partners to drill deeply into the business, investment and financial issues that will affect a fair and equitable marital settlement.
"The majority of our cases settle at mediation or before trial," Bluestein added. "Our clients tend to be high-income earners and high-net-worth parties who understand the benefits of resolving a case rather than going to trial."
In addition to dissolution proceedings, the firm’s attorneys handle premarital and post-nuptial agreements, cohabitation agreements, and other family law matters including paternity claims. "Along with our legal advice, we understand that clients often need emotional support during stressful times and do our best to encourage clients to receive therapeutic support from qualified professionals in the community” Wayne said. “We know that divorce can take its toll on the children, too, and we take their needs into consideration at every step of the process.
In addition, Acebo’s practice includes matters particular to same-sex relationships and the LGBT community at large. "Same-sex couples now fall under the ambit of marital law," Acebo said. "Now, we can address their relationship on an equal legal footing with other married couples." Acebo also provides legal advice to would-be parents seeking to form families through the use of assisted reproductive technology. His services include the drafting of genetic donation and surrogacy contracts.
Summing up the firm’s approach, Bluestein said, “Collectively, we have more than 90 years of legal experience. That allows us to gather information, discuss the options, and find the best possible solutions for our clients.”
2018 Edition and January 8, 2018 SFLG-MHBM Edition