Ronald W. Nelson is the principal and president of Ronald W Nelson PA, which has its offices in Overland Park, Kansas. He graduated from Kansas State University in 1978 (B.S. Political Science, minor in Biology) and from Washburn University School of Law in 1981 (J.D., with honors). He began practicing law in 1981 with the law firm of Alder, Nelson & McKenna with a trial and appellate practice focused on tort defense. He opened his own law practice in 1987 and associated with various other attorneys before establishing the current firm, where he and the firm limit practice to a family law trial and appellate practice and related matters.
Mr. Nelson is recognized throughout Kansas and the United States for his knowledge in and activism with family law. He regularly writes about important issues in family law for local, regional, national, and international legal publications. He frequently speaks to local, regional, national, and international legal groups about complex issues in family law. He is a contributing author to the Practitioner’s Guide to Kansas Family Law, published by the Kansas Bar Association (1997 & supplements)(2d ed. 2010 & supplements)(3d ed. 2023), writing chapters on “Divorce, Separate Maintenance, and Annulment” [Chapter 2], and “Child Custody, Parenting Time, and Visitation” [Chapter 6], and he contributes articles to other publications on various family law topics. He often testifies to the Kansas Legislature on family law and related legislation and about issues affecting Kansas families. He was instrumental in making revisions to Kansas child custody law in 2000, the 2011 Recodification of Kansas Family Law, updates to the Kansas Parentage Act and statutory criteria for parenting-time determinations in 2014, and other changes in Kansas family law, practice, and procedure. Mr. Nelson helped to draft family law forms for state-wide use in Kansas, including forms for divorce, post-decree child support and parenting modifications, protection from abuse and protection from stalking, and other related matters. He has been involved in finding other ways to improve access to the courts and to create better ways for separating and separated families to resolve their disputes.
Mr. Nelson engages in a civil trial and appellate practice focusing on traditional client representation in complex family law matters, including divorce, determination of parentage, the division of property in non-marital relationships, high-conflict child custody matters, and handling post-decree modification matters, including helping parents seeking the return of their children from interstate and international child abduction. Mr. Nelson has extensive appellate practice and has participated in more than one hundred appellate cases. He is Board Certified in Family Law Trial Advocacy by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
Mr. Nelson practices before all trial and appellate courts in the State of Kansas. He is admitted to practice before the Kansas Supreme Court (1981), the United States District Court for the District of Kansas (1981), the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri (2004), the Tenth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (1986), and the United States Supreme Court (1992).
He is a member of the Johnson County, Kansas Bar Association, the Kansas Bar Association (Member, Family Law Section; Member, Appellate Practice Section; Member, Legislative Committee 1991-present), and the American Bar Association (Member, Family Law Section; Member Law Practice Management Section). He is a Fellow in both the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers and the International Academy of Family Lawyers.
Mr. Nelson served as President of the Kansas Bar Association Family Law Section for three terms between 2000 and 2004, on the Governing Council of the American Bar Association Family Law Section from 2000-2006, was a Founding member of The Johnson County, Kansas Family Law American Inn of Court, and is a member of the Kansas Judicial Council’s Family Law Advisory Committee. He served as Chair of the Johnson County (Kansas) Bar Association’s Family Law Bench–Bar Committee until 2017. He served as the ABA Family Law Section Advisor to the Uniform Law Commission‘s Committee, drafting amendments on the Implementation of the Hague Convention on Protection of Children, including the 2013 revisions to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act (UCCJEA). He also participated in the Uniform Law Commission’s Study Committee exploring a Uniform Third Party Custody and Visitation Act (renamed the Uniform Nonparent Custody and Visitation Act). He participated in an American Bar Association Family Law Section Committee drafting Standards of Practice for Lawyers Representing Children in Custody Cases, a committee drafting a Model Relocation of Children Act, and various other committees within the Section. He is a member of the Board of Managers for the U.S.A. Chapter of the International Academy of Family Lawyers.