Hello and Welcome to MacElree Harvey

Centreville, DE
Centreville, DE

5721 Kennett Pike
Wilmington, DE 19807

Hockessin, DE
Hockessin, DE

724 Yorklyn Rd #100
Hockessin, DE 19707

Kennett Square, PA
Kennett Square, PA

209 East State Street
Kennett Square, PA 19348

West Chester, PA
West Chester, PA

17 West Miner Street
West Chester, PA 19382

8:00am - 5:30pm
Opening hours Monday - Friday
Call Us Today
MacElree Harvey Offices
Home > Attorney > Lance J. Nelson

Lance Nelson, chair of the Firm’s family law practice, has over 25 years of experience representing clients in family law matters such as divorce, marital agreements, adoption, custody, and support. For his business clients, Lance advises on a variety of legal issues, including contract disputes, construction issues, corporate control issues and other aspects of day-to-day business disputes.

Lance has an AV Preeminent Rating in Martindale Hubbell Peer Review Ratings, the highest legal ability, and ethical standards rating. He has been consistently selected to the Pennsylvania Super Lawyers list since 2010 and the Main Line Today Top Lawyers list in the field of Family Law since 2009. Lance was selected by his peers for inclusion in the 2019 and 2020 editions of The Best Lawyers in America© in the field of Family Law.

Active in the community, Lance has been a Board Member of the West Chester Business Improvement District since 2001, the West Chester Downtown Foundation since 2003, and the West Chester Public Library since 2011—presiding as Chairman to all three organizations during his tenure. An avid sports fan, Lance also coaches various basketball teams, including St. Agnes CYO.

Since joining MacElree Harvey in 1992, Lance was named a shareholder in 1998 and served as the Managing Partner from 2001 to 2011.

Honors & Awards

  • The Best Lawyers in America© 2019-2021
  • Main Line Today, Top Lawyer, 2009 – 2019
  • Martindale-Hubbel, AV Preeminent Rating
  • Pennsylvania Super Lawyer, 2010 – 2021

Notable Representations

  • Counseled a business owner with more than 50 separate business entities through the divorce process. Successfully litigated complex multi-entity valuation issues and support issues. Finally, negotiated an overall resolution to the divorce prior to trial.
  • Advised a wife and mother through a contentious divorce involving multi-generational family trusts. Counseled wife through complex accounting issues over the course of a lengthy marriage. Assisted wife in bringing the divorce to an overall out of court resolution.
  • Counseled a father with a significant interest in a family-owned business. Worked with client and client’s spouse’s counsel to resolve issues related to the value of the family-owned business, the division of the marital property, an equally shared custody arrangement and ongoing support obligations without resorting to any court intervention.
  • Worked with a mother whose husband owned a substantial business. Through many court hearings in the litigation process, successfully resolved for this mother all of the issues related to the value of the husband’s business, a custody schedule, appropriate support payments and the division of the marital property.
  • Counseled children who own significant portions of multigeneration family-owned business through the prenuptial process. Helped young man navigate an already stressful pre-wedding situation and address the consequences of his ownership in a multi-million dollar family business without injecting more stress with his fiance.
  • Represented a professional service firm through the arbitration process when a former owner left taking many clients with him. Through the arbitration, successfully secured for the majority owner enforcement of certain financial and other obligations of the departing shareholder.
  • After a multi-day non-jury trial, successfully secured a substantial judgment for a custom builder that included not only sums that were due under the contract, but lost profits.
  • Successfully represented in a non-jury trial a non-profit organization to resolve certain corporate governance issues that were raised by a dissident group of members.


  • Chester County Bar Association, President 2011
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association
  • Delaware State Bar Association
  • Doris Jonas Freed Family Law Inn of Court

Previous Memberships

  • American Inns of Court (John E. Stively Inn)
  • Legal Aid of Chester County, Board Member
  • Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Disciplinary Board Hearing Committee (2001-2008)
  • Pennsylvania Bar Association, Task Force on Balance and Quality of Life (1999 – 2001)

Community Involvement

  • West Chester University – Presidential Scholarship Steering Committee 1999-2012, Chairman 2001 – 2002
  • West Chester Business Improvement District Board Member 2001 – 2019, Chairman 2004 – 2005
  • West Chester Downtown Foundation Board Member 2003- Present, Chairman 2009 – 2010
  • Basketball Coach – St. Agnes CYO and West Chester Lightening Leagues
  • West Chester Public Library, Board Member 2011-Present

Speaking Engagements

Lance is a frequent lecturer on litigation-related topics. He has presented to various state and local organizations including the Chester County Bar Association, the Institute of Management Accountants, the Pennsylvania Bar Association, and the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants.



Practice Areas


Excellence in Action

Lance’s expertise in the law is invaluable. His admirable penchant in navigating my difficult, long divorce, resulting in a positive outcome, is vastly appreciated. For many years, his professional manner and attentiveness kept me confident and peaceful. I am grateful to Lance and his top-tier firm for their capability and for giving me a favorable conclusion to that chapter in my life.

Anonymous Read more


I had a very difficult divorce and custody battle. I stuck with Lance through the entire process and I'm so glad I did. Lance took the time to fully understand my case and worked hard to navigate complex issues. He has excellent knowledge of the law and his recommendations were spot on. When we had to go to court Lance clearly explained the strategy and reasoning behind it and we always walked away with a positive outcome. I highly respect Lance's ability as a lawyer and found his advice to be very valuable. Going through divorce and custody issues is an extremely emotional process and I found Lance to be very level-headed and even throughout the process. Lance guided me in the right direction during times when I wanted to go a more adversarial route, which in the end produced a better outcome for less money. I highly recommend Lance as a divorce attorney, he is worth every penny.

Kenny Read more

Former Client

Lance is an outstanding attorney that represented me in a difficult divorce and custody case. Lance from the beginning emphasized doing what was right, not expedient, and in hindsight I am so grateful that I listened to him. This fundamentally changed - or broadened - of the difference between a good family law advocate, and a not so good one. Lance is one of the best.

Anonymous Read more

Earned My Trust

After interviewing several attorneys to handle my divorce, Lance was the clear choice in assuring my needs and interests would be secured. All throughout the process, Lance was calm, confident, thorough and understanding in helping navigate through this difficult time. When so much is on the line, having a solid rock to ground you is essential. Lance was that rock and instilled the required confidence and care in preserving sanity until the process was complete. In the end, this was my divorce and Lance earned my trust and was the asset needed to close that chapter in my life.

Anonymous Read more

Impressive in the Courtroom

Lance was most impressive in the courtroom, but all other aspects of my divorce were handled quickly and professionally. Lance also made time to guide me through the process with clear answers and some humor.

Lee Read more

Best Attorney in the Court Room

From the start, Lance was warming and responsive to my situation. He worked diligently (both during office hours and outside of work) to quickly resolve many unusual divorce issues presented in my case. His demeanor and professional conduct was of the highest regard. Lance has the knowledge and expertise of the process of divorce to quickly close this chapter. His highly regarded in my book.

Tom W. Read more

Outstanding West Chester Attorney!

Lance was an incredible attorney to work with during the entire divorce process. His knowledge of law, the courts and how thing moved along was second to none! He was always two steps ahead of everyone else in the room. When numbers were flying, situations were changing or when emotions were high, Lance always had a plan. He would suggest times to refrain from talking or debating and every time he stopped me, it was for the best. I found it amazing that an attorney would know so much about accounting principles, taxes, and business decisions. He would present issues or concepts that were reasonable and the Hearing Officer or other attorneys accepted. Lastly, he would make suggestions to me on the side about keeping the children first, looking at the big picture and how to possibly avoid additional hearings or attorney fees. Lance kept my case out of the courts with his negotiations skills I was not disappointed at any moment during the divorce process that I had Lance represent me!

Jim Read more

Custody case

Lance and his team did an absolutely wonderful job with my custody case. They are all fast and very efficient, making a difficult process run smoothly. I was always kept updated about my situation or with any changes. I would never go to anyone else.

Caitlyn Read more

Competent, caring, and a credit to the profession

Several years after a divorce, new issues prompted me to seek counsel about child custody concerns. No longer confident in the divorce lawyer's practice, a recommendation led me to Lance Nelson. I truly cannot say enough good things about Lance. He is patient, pragmatic, professional, accessible. Exceptional communication and clear integrity. He laid out the options at every stage, with practical advice regarding the most logical next steps. It never needed to go to court — we were able to manage the situation well enough long enough, the kids aged out before needing more serious legal intervention. In addition to Lance, everyone I have interacted with in the office is equally competent and caring. I would not hesitate to recommend Lance specifically or the practice as a whole.

Jennifer Read more

Family Law Case

Lance is a fantastic lawyer and I recommend him and his associates. He handled my very complicated and financially complex high- income child support adjustment. I received an increase in support and quite an education on PA child support law in the process. Lance’s ability to simplify confusing issues was key in helping me make important decisions for my family’s future. Highly recommend if you need legal help with any family law matter.

Jody Read more

Chester County’s TOP Divorce Attorney

Lance, has helped me navigate not one but two divorces. He's brought common sense and a level of expertise to an otherwise emotional part of family law. Lance has given me very sound advise concerning my young children as well that was so very helpful. Lance is clearly a person you want on your side to navigate what can be a very difficult time not only for yourself but your family as well.

Keith Read more

The Best Divorce Attorney in Chester County

Lance is smart, savvy and goes the extra mile for his client. He is professional, well spoken, and very intelligent. Super efficient, he has patience and for the attorneys that’s rare. He explains what the process is no matter what process you’re involved in. His expertise in Family law is outstanding! He can handle anything! He’s truly the Best! I will be forever grateful the way he handled my divorce process that took 5 years!

Andra Read more

You wont find a better lawyer than Lance

Lance provided me with legal advice and waived the fee based on my situation. Lance genuinely cares, he's still in the process of helping us, I am grateful there are still people willing to care enough to assist people in need, thanks Lance.

RM Read more

Protect Manager

Lance handled my divorce, I am extremely satisfied with the outcome, his performance and professionalism was inspiring !!!! Of all of the lawyers in Chester County it is my opinion he is the best.

Scott Read more


Lance was very calming when I was stressed out. He kept me focused but listened when I vented during the 2 years it took to finalize my divorce. He kept me informed and made sure things were moving toward a resolution when the it was stalled from opposing lawyer. Overall he kept me out of trouble when I made mistakes and was always there to help 24/7. I believe I made the best choice asking him to help me.

Ray Read more

Family Law

I hired Lance to represent me in my divorce after a bad experience with another lawyer. Lance was not only extremely professional but more importantly, he is very familiar with the law, sets reasonable expectations which ended up saving time, effort and money for me. I didn’t waste time and money disputing issues with my ex-husband that I wouldn’t have won. His preparation was second to none, which was critical when arguing in court. I would highly recommend Lance to anyone who is navigating through a divorce as his knowledge and preparation are critical for getting his clients a fair settlement.

Anonymous Read more

Family Law

Lance Nelson is an exceptional family practice attorney. He has been my attorney for twenty years and during that time has successfully resolved numerous complex family issues. I recommend him without question and if you are fortunate enough to hire him you will certainly be glad you did.

Anonymous Read more

Family Law

Lance Nelson helped me with many issues over several years. I would and do highly recommend him for all legal issues, especially child custody.

Brett Read more

Family Law

Lance has been and continues to be an excellent resource and outstanding advocate for me regarding family law matters. He crafted my premarital agreement with thoughtful thoroughness so when it, unfortunately, was needed the divorce process was short and smooth. Additionally, Lance counseled me regarding child custody matters in a fair and balanced manner that was always focused on the well being of my children. I would recommend Lance for family law matters based on my continually exceptional experience.

Anonymous Read more

Family Law – Divorce, Support, and Custody

My situation was horrible and spiraling all in a negative direction. In a big moment for myself, I decided to switch attorney & law firms. Lance rationally moved things in a direction that fairly got things done. He is calm, professional & spot on. If he is being baited towards confrontation he dilutes the scenario from escalating rationally & respectfully. All very important elements towards helping the topic or issue staying on point and reasonably litigated. Lance is the professionals of professionals. His sincerity to reaching fair results for the children’s behalf is exemplary. We as a family are still a family cause of Lance Nelson.

Nicholas Read more

Family Law – Divorce

I was faced with a challenging divorce with complex estate implications. Lance provided clear practical advice ultimately allowing me to reach an agreement through mediation. He was accessible to answer questions - even during weekends - helping me map out strategic approaches to complex dispute areas. Despite the emotions being felt, Lance maintained focus on the "big picture" - advising where it made sense to fight and where it made sense to compromise. His team was also very professional and continue to guide me post-divorce on things like estate planning to help put this event behind me.

Anonymous Read more

Family Law – Divorce

Mr. Nelson's calm approach to negotiating the tumultuous process of a hostile divorce and custody battle can be contagious. No matter how heated or volatile the process becomes, he never seems to lose his cool and keeps his composure at all times. He knows the system and the process and conducts himself as a true professional. My process with the most painful experience of my life, but he was there for me every step of the way, and in the end, I got everything I wanted and more. He knows when to show his hand, and when to stick to the plan. He is organized, and no matter how busy he seems to be, he always knew the details of my case off the top of his head without having to review the mountains of paper in my files. As far as I'm concerned, he's the best that West Chester has to offer in the excruciating process of family law, especially when children are involved.

Anonymous Read more

Family Law – Divorce

Lance has been very effective in fighting against a cynical attorney on my divorce case. I applaud his consideration for kids affected during divorce and always helped me to make decisions which are the best for my kids future.

Raj Read more

Family Law – Divorce

It is easy when getting divorced to make emotional decisions. Lance helped keep me on track by constantly benchmarking my emotional choices against my long term goals. His ability to steer my communications and ultimately my decision making to achieving my goals was an enormous benefit. Lots of lawyers understand the law. Lance not only is a great lawyer, he also understands people and how to motivate them to success.

Anne Marie Read more

Family Law – Adoption

Lance handled an adoption matter for me. He was responsive, capable, and knowledgeable. I would definitely recommend him.

Anonymous Read more


  • Villanova University School of Law, Juris Doctor
    Order of the Coif
  • Boston College, Economics and Political Science


  • Pennsylvania
  • Delaware
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  • United States District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  • United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit


Citizen of the Year

  • The Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce (2009)

Newsletter Signup

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.