About Sheila Adams Gardner

Headshot by Gabrielle Denise Gardner!.jpg

Sheila Adams Gardner, founder of Cooperative Strategies, is an attorney and mediator who began her legal career practicing personal injury and medical malpractice law in Texas and Washington, DC. She was inspired to create CSFL after several years working with parents through her company, Gardener Parenting Consultants. In that work, Sheila coached parents struggling to coparent --to create peaceful, two home families that supported their children. Having grown up in a cooperative two home family, Sheila became passionate about helping parents make conscious decisions to protect and provide for their children into adulthood. Trained in Mediation, Collaborative Practice, and Parenting Coordination, Sheila guides clients toward mutually acceptable resolutions that reflect their highest priorities. Family practice areas include: prenuptial/post-nuptial agreements, adoption, paternity, divorce, separation, creation/modification of parenting plans, child support, guardianship, name change, and power of attorney.


Why I do this work

Sheila, (far right) with her dad and sister around the time of her parents' divorce.

On a sunny spring day in 1975, while watching cartoons, I noticed my father walking back and forth across the living room, taking his things out to an old brown truck. My three sisters and I were told that day, that our Daddy would be living somewhere else. Only 6 years old, my single question was, "Can he stay?" He could not. We sat in the front window for hours after he left wondering when, and where we would see our father again. Would we ever again sneak out of bed when he came home late from work to have a cup of warmed milk and watch Johnny Carson? It was a scary, confusing and sometimes painful time for all of us. Our family was the only divorced family we knew at the time. Yet, without models, books or coaches, our parents heroically managed to coparent with the utmost respect for each other and us, fiercely committed to maintaining our strong family bond. Our parents' romantic relationship ended; but our family relationship did not. Of course there were bumps along the way. Through it all, our parents remained laser focused on raising healthy women. The techniques my parents used: never arguing or speaking ill of each other in front of us; never withholding visitation; being flexible with schedules and supportive of each other when necessary, were exactly what 20 years of research on raising children after divorce recommends today. I know what it takes to raise healthy children after divorce. Not because of the years I've spent researching and teaching it as a parent educator, but because I experienced it. It is my experience that makes me so passionate about helping parents make their 'new normal'-a two home family, a healthy and nurturing one for their children.    ~Sheila~

Professional Associations/Memberships:

  • District of Columbia Bar
  • State Bar of Texas
  • Fairfax Bar Association, Associate Member
  • International Academy of Collaborative Professionals
  • DC Academy of Collaborative Professionals, Board Member
  • Association of Family and Conciliation Courts
  • Academy of Professional Family Mediators
  • District of Columbia Bar-Family Law Section
  • Fairfax Bar Association-Alternative Dispute Resolution Section
  • Women's Bar Association of the District of Columbia

Sheila regularly volunteers her services to the DC Volunteer Lawyers Project, DC Family Court Self Help Center, and the Collaborative Project of DC where she also serves as a member of its governing board.