Maximizing Results by Minimizing Conflict in Divorce
As a parent and stepparent who understands the realities of divorce, I know that lawyers can do more harm than good. My clients appreciate that I blend my life experiences and collaborative training with logic, patience, and persuasion to move even the most emotional family law cases toward a positive and peaceful future. Clients and their families deserve a lawyer who listens closely, asks the right questions, and works tirelessly to exceed expectations. My focus is on collaborative and cooperative divorces, premarital agreements, and marital property agreements because the high road is the best place to respectfully resolve family law matters; it is my privilege to guide clients who want to walk this path.
Collaborative Divorce results in creativity and customized solutions for families. I often help parents create unique parenting plans that balance the needs of their children with both parents’ schedules. I also help couples navigate the challenges of a “gray divorce,” providing guidance in addressing the unique needs of their grown children and the complexities of their high-net-worth marital estates. The goal is always to achieve a mutually acceptable resolution in an atmosphere of privacy and respect.
How We Do It:
- My clients and I set realistic goals. Clients provide their history and the facts of their current situation. I apply my understanding of the law and years of experience to help identify an achievable outcome. Together, we move past the conflict to create a better future.
- We use restraint and good judgment. We focus on interests rather than positions, considering all of the options before moving forward.
- We use the collaborative process whenever possible. The collaborative law process allows for customized co-parenting plans, transparent identification and valuation of assets, creative property division and support, and an atmosphere of confidentiality and respect. I urge my clients to utilize this process for divorce, modification, and premarital agreements.
- We keep our eyes on the prize. Even if the collaborative process is not the right fit for a particular situation, my experience as a credentialed collaborative lawyer provides tools to resolve family law disputes outside of the courtroom. Negotiated settlements produce the most favorable financial outcomes with minimal collateral damage to children.
- We partner with litigators when there are no other options. Despite my strong commitment to the philosophy and practice of collaborative law, there are rare cases in which agreement is not possible. In these instances, I join forces with the firm’s talented family law litigators.
Professional Experience and Credentials
Esther R. Donald has immersed herself in the collaborative law model and has been distinguished as a credentialed Collaborative Divorce lawyer, one of a select few in Texas. She chaired the Dallas Bar Association’s Collaborative Law Section and is a charter board member and the current secretary of the Collin County Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section. She continues to develop her skills via active involvement with Collaborative Divorce Collin County. Esther is Vice-Chair of the State Bar of Texas Collaborative Law Council and served the State Bar of Texas as the course director for the Annual Collaborative Law Course in March 2022 and as the assistant course director in 2021. She continues on the Planning Committee and was a speaker at the state-wide conference in 2023. Her emphasis on cooperative and collaborative family law solutions has led to her recognition as a “Best Lawyer” by the U.S. News Best Lawyers in America© in the field of family law in 2017-2023 and as a Texas Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters in 2016-2022. She was also named to the 2022 “Top 100: Dallas/Fort Worth Super Lawyers” and “Top 50 Women Texas Super Lawyers” lists by Thomson Reuters.
Esther Donald is a top-tier Collaborative Divorce lawyer in Dallas, Texas, working out of our Dallas and Plano office locations.
She earned her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Texas, where she served as associate editor of the Texas Law Review. Esther cheers for the Longhorns and the Tulane Green Wave, is a longtime member of Temple Emanu-El, and remains a passionate advocate for helping clients divorce differently, with compassion and dignity.
- Collaborative Divorce
- Negotiated Divorce
- High Net Worth Divorce
- Gray Divorce
- Amicable Divorce
- Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
- Parenting Schedules
- Divorce for Women
- Divorce for Men
- LGBTQ+ Divorce
- LGBTQ+ Parenting Rights
- Property Division
- Dividing the Marital Home
- Characterization of Separate and Community Property
- Business Valuation in Divorce
- Complex Property
- Divorce for Business Owners
- Mental Health and Addiction in Divorce
- Grandparent Visitation and Custody Rights in Texas
- Pre-Divorce Guidance
Honors & Awards
- State Bar of Texas, Annual Collaborative Law Course, Course Director, 2022
- State Bar of Texas, Annual Collaborative Law Course, Assistant Course Director, 2021
- State Bar of Texas, Annual Collaborative Law Course, Planning Committee, 2020 – 2023
- Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America© list in the field of Family Law by Best Lawyers, 2017 – 2024
- Inclusion in the Best Lawyers in America© list in the field of Collaborative Law: Family Law by Best Lawyers, 2024
- Selected to the Texas Super Lawyers list, Thomson Reuters, 2016 – 2023
- Selected to the “Top 100: Dallas/Fort Worth” Super Lawyers list, Thomson Reuters, 2022
- Selected to the “Top 50 Women Texas Super Lawyers” list, Thomson Reuters, 2022
- What Causes “Gray Divorce” Later in Life?: Reasons Why Older Couples Split August 16, 2023
- What Is a Gray Divorce? Getting a Divorce After 50 July 26, 2023
- How You Can Achieve Your Divorce Goals October 8, 2019
- Social Media: Impacts both Marriages and Divorce Proceedings October 14, 2016
- The Final Divorce Decree is Not Etched in Stone September 8, 2015
- “Help Your Teen Cope with the Effects of Divorce,” Goranson Bain Ausley, 2023
- “Out of the Shadows: Incorporating Adult Children into the Collaborative Divorce Process,” Collaborative Law Course, 2020
- “Disproportionate Division and Spousal Maintenance for the Non-Monied Spouse,” Advance Family Law, 2019
Videos & Podcasts
- Why Collaborative Divorce is a Good Solution for Divorce After 50
- How Can You Achieve Privacy in the Collaborative Divorce Process?
- What’s Better About a Collaborative Divorce?
- How Does Social Media Impact My Divorce?
- How To Protect Children From A Custody Battle During A Divorce
- The Benefits of the Collaborative Divorce Process
- Collaborative Divorce Texas
- Collin County Bar Association, Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, Secretary 2022-23, Charter Board Member since 2021
- Collaborative Divorce Collin County
- Dallas Bar Association
- Membership Chair, 2022
- Dallas Bar Association, Collaborative Law Section
- Chair, 2019 – 2020
- Vice Chair, 2018 – 2019
- Dallas Bar Association, Family Law Section
- Dallas Bar Foundation
- Fellow, 2019
- State Bar of Texas, Collaborative Law Council
- Vice President
- State Bar of Texas, Collaborative Law Section
- State Bar of Texas, Family Law Section
- Texas Family Law Foundation
- University of Texas School of Law, 1988
- J.D., Law
- Texas Law Review, Associate Editor
- University of Texas at Austin, 1985
- B.A., English with Honors
- Licensed to Practice in Texas 1988
- Admitted to practice in Northern District of Texas
- Admitted to practice in Eastern District of Texas