Douglas J. Sanderson


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Douglas J. Sanderson enjoys using his several decades of experience as a solutions-focused attorney to provide legal services in the multiple practice areas of family law/domestic relations, commercial real estate, and business organizations and transactions. Although initially Doug began his practice primarily focused on real estate litigation and transactions, he soon added the practice of family law because it provided him the opportunity to work one-on-one with clients dealing with significant, personal and life-changing events, where he could help make a personal difference for them. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic Doug has updated his practice to emphasize and provide accessibility to clients using not only phones and e-mails but also video apps such as Zoom.

In his family law/domestic relations practice, Doug counsels and represents people who need legal assistance with issues of or relating to divorces, separation agreements, child custody and visitation, equitable distribution, and support (spousal and child, as needed), as well as, on a happier note, pre-nuptial agreements.  Doug’s practice includes litigation, but he strives to employ other methods of problem-solving for his clients that avoid or minimize litigation and thus save the clients on stress and attorneys’ fees. To further that effort he also has been trained in, and uses where possible, the process of Collaborative Divorce.

In Doug’s business and commercial real estate practices, he represents people who are owners or operators of businesses, including real estate asset advisors, business investors, developers, commercial and retail landlords and tenants, and real estate foundations.  In these areas, his practice includes providing legal counsel for the acquisition, development, construction, leasing and sale of properties such as office buildings, communications towers, mixed-use developments and condominiums; the negotiation, amendment and documentation of commercial, retail and telecommunications/celltower leases and of real estate-secured loans; the organization and financing of business entities; the organization of property owners’ associations; and the foreclosure of real estate-secured loans.

  • J.D., George Washington University’s National Law Center, 1977
  • B.A. (Economics), Trinity College, Hartford, CT, 1974
  • Virginia
  • District of Columbia

“Virginia Business” magazine has named Doug as one of its “Legal Elite” attorneys in Virginia, in the practice area of family law, in all but one year since the inception of the list in 2000, based on a statewide survey of attorneys by the magazine. He also has been named a “SuperLawyer” for the Washington, D.C. metropolitan and/or northern Virginia areas, by the magazines of the same name for the past decade or more; one of the The Best Lawyers in America©; and has been listed in Who’s Who publications for the South and Southwest, for America, for American Law, and for the World.

He is an AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated attorney, the highest rating from Martindale-Hubbell®. In 2016, Doug was selected by the Fairfax Federation of Citizens Associations to receive a Certificate of Merit for his 25 years of pro-bono legal service to the citizens of Fairfax County as legal counsel for the Arts Council of Fairfax County.

Doug has been an active volunteer in northern Virginia.  He has served since 1991 as volunteer legal counsel to ARTSFAIRFAX (formerly Arts Council of Fairfax County).  He has served as a member of the boards of directors of his family’s swim and tennis club, Legal Services of Northern Virginia, Inc. (of which he served as President from 1993 through 1996), Temple Rodef Shalom,  and the Central Fairfax Chamber of Commerce.  He has served on the Site Selection Committee for Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia and on the Board of Directors of Communities of Faith United for Housing.

Outside the office, Doug enjoys spending time with his wife and, when they are home, his adult children, and reading, sharing emailed jokes, surfing the Internet, and traveling.

One reason that I offer Collaborative Divorce as one option for separating families is the gentler, less antagonistic nature of the process, as shown in this two-minute video, by the International Academy of Collaborative Practice. As IACP asks, “10 years from now, how will your children tell the story of your divorce?”