Practice Areas

We are now accepting new clients in the areas of:


  • Bankruptcy is a legal remedy – referenced in our Constitution – for addressing debt which has overcome a person’s ability to pay those debts – usually regardless of the reason for the development of that debt.
  • When bankruptcy is the answer, which it frequently is, I help my clients overcome their desperation and despair as we chart their course to a successful financial recovery, eliminating the barrage of creditor phone calls and sense of dread each day brings.
  • I have guided thousands of clients through financial difficulties which are incredibly distressing, destructive of marital relationships and  flat-out paralyzing.  Those difficulties include repossession,    foreclosures and garnishment.
  • Bankruptcy is neither simple and requires a significant commitment of time and attention from both the client and the attorney – and pays huge dividends for the client. Call me today to get moving on your fresh start!
  • Sadly – and primarily because two households cannot live as cheaply as one – bankruptcy and divorce often go hand in hand. I have years of practice in both areas of the law and am one of very few Hampton Roads lawyers uniquely positioned to help you ensure that a bankruptcy does not destroy the benefits of your separation agreement.

Back to Top

Divorce / Separation:

  • Uncontested Divorce ( no issues in dispute)
  • Collaborative Divorce (with other collaborative professionals)
  • Mediation Agreements (parties meet together with a neutral mediator to reach an agreement that will be made part of the Final Decree of Divorce)
  • Property Settlement and Stipulation Agreements (parties enter into a written agreement on issues such as property division, custody and support)
  • Premarital and Marital Agreements (parties can enter into a written agreement to decide in advance what will happen to property and money in the event of a divorce.)
  • Many divorces involve issues that require specialized experience. I have experience in military and civil service divorces and know the DFAS and OPM rules
  • My dual qualifications as both attorney and mediator afford me the ability to serve you in the above areas as either counsel OR mediator – although I cannot “wear both hats” in a particular case!

Many divorces involve issues that require specialized experience. Ellen Carlson is experienced in military and civil service divorces.

My dual qualifications as both attorney and mediator afford me the ability to serve you in the above areas as either counsel OR mediator – although I cannot “wear both hats” in a particular case!

Back to Top

Child Custody / Support / Visitation:

  • Whether in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations District  Court or the Circuit Court; whether representing parent, grandparent, or other interested party; whether the parties are litigating, mediating, or agreeing, I can help you reach your goals.
  • Ask me about your options for enforcing custody, visitation and support orders!

Back to Top


  • Research and experience confirm that parties to a dispute are far more satisfied and likely to respect the resulting agreement where they when they resolve their dispute via mediation involving a neutral facilitator as opposed to being forced into a court-ordered
  • All disputes can be mediated, if the parties agree to participate. I have over 20 years of training and experience in resolving disputes as a neutral facilitator.
  • If you think mediation might be your choice, call me. Be aware, however, that we can only discuss mediation process unless the other party to the dispute is present on the call.   I cannot discuss substantive issues with you without the other party being present in order to avoid the perception of or actual bias.
  • Mediation sessions typically are set in 2-hour increments, with payment due in advance at the time the appointment is made. This allows me to provide a very favorable discount from my usual hourly rate.

Back to Top

Collaborative Law:

  • Collaborative law is a process in which specially-trained attorneys, financial professionals and mental health care providers work together with the clients to reach a settlement of areas of concern. Mediation techniques are used to facilitate the clients’ ‘owning’ and resolving their issues.
  • I was a member of the group that first brought this extraordinary technique to Hampton Roads, although it is widely used across the country and has taken hold in a number of areas in Virginia. However, because of its relative youth as a tool in resolving divorce, the number of available collaboratively-trained attorneys is small, thus limiting a client’s choice of counsel.
  • Parties and professionals enter into a contract agreeing to proceed on a non-litigation footing, and the attorneys cannot represent the parties in court if the process fails (it rarely fails).
  • Meetings can involve all the professionals or only some of them, but both clients are present at meetings.
  • This process can significantly reduce the emotional wear and tear of reconfiguring a family unit from one to two, and is designed to reduce litigation costs.
  • Call me to schedule a consultation about collaborative divorce and the resources available.

Back to Top

Estate & Life Planning:

  • We prepare wills, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, and simple trusts to promote both the protection of your current assets but also the effective passage of those trusts to your loved ones as YOU desire upon your death.
  • This is an area of the law that people often avoid until it is too late, such as: (1) a loved  one becoming before a power of attorney is established, forcing those charged with their care into an expensive conservatorship/guardianship court proceeding; (2) the death of a loved one who does not leave a will  OR leaves a will executed years ago which is incapable of addressing current circumstances; or (3) collection issues that result in a lien on valuable property  that must be liquidated for the benefit of creditors instead of the family.
  • If you have not had a general review of your current asset picture, made a plan for your estate upon your death or updated an existing estate plan in more than five years, please call my office for an appointment to protect your loved ones from the anguish of dealing not only with their loss of YOU but also with an intractable financial mess that could have been avoided.

Back to Top

Ratings and Reviews