About Matthew Smith

Matthew Smith is a senior family lawyer in the Fairfax office of Livesay & Myers. He is the attorney in the firm most experienced in navigating the Fairfax County, Arlington and Alexandria family courts. An attorney since 2005, Mr. Smith has litigated every type of family law case in the courts of Northern Virginia, including high value equitable distribution cases, custody, support, and military divorce cases.

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Four Advantages of the Mediation Process

Posted on May 19th, 2015, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

So you’re open to reaching a fair divorce settlement with your spouse, but you don’t have confidence that the two of you (with or without your attorneys) can make lasting progress around a conference table. In that setting, emotions may run too high or your spouse may fixate on certain elements of your case that cloud and crowd out everything else.

Maybe there has been infidelity, domestic violence, abandonment or simply a failure to communicate without every interaction devolving into a shouting match. These are all-too-common elements in contested family law cases. You may need a neutral third party with authority to step in and help drag your case across the finish line.

Whether your mediator is a retired judge or family law practitioner, he or she will likely be knowledgeable and experienced in family law and skilled in the art of … Read More »


Military Divorce Rate Reaches Lowest Point in 10 Years

Posted on March 5th, 2015, by Matthew Smith in Family Law, Military Divorce. No Comments

According to statistics released on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Defense, the military’s divorce rate dropped again last year, and has reached its lowest level since 2005.

In 2014, the divorce rate among enlisted and officer men and women was 3.1 percent. The military divorce rate has steadily decreased since 2011, when it reached a high of 3.7 percent. In 2001, when the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were beginning, the rate was only 2.6 percent.

By contrast, the civilian divorce rate stands at approximately 3.6 percent, according to the most current data available.

One gender is largely responsible for the steady decline in military divorces. Since 2011, the female military divorce rate has dropped from 8.0 percent to 6.5 percent, accounting for most of the overall reduction. Female Marines saw the largest decrease in divorces, from 9.5 percent in 2011 to … Read More »


Oil CEO Ordered to Pay $1 Billion in Divorce Ruling

Posted on November 13th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

One of the largest divorce judgments in United States history was rendered this week, when Continental Resources Chief Executive Officer Harold Hamm was ordered to pay nearly $1 billion to his ex-wife.

After a nine-week divorce trial that ended last month, Oklahoma Judge Howard Haralson ruled, in an 80-page decision, that Sue Ann Hamm should receive a total of $995.5 million, among other significant assets.

And it would seem that Mr. Hamm got off lightly. The marital estate was estimated to be worth at least $18 billion, largely tied up in Continental shares, and Ms. Hamm sought a much larger sum than what she was awarded.

Mr. Hamm controls 68% of the oil company’s stock, and the ruling does not require him to part with those shares. Still, Ms. Hamm will shortly become one of the 100 wealthiest women in the U.S.

Judge Haralson … Read More »


Cooling Hot-Button School-Related Co-Parenting Issues

Posted on September 11th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

As the calendar turns to September and football season begins anew, children all over the country have returned to school. For them, the carefree days of summer give way to the structured rigors of academic pursuits. But their parents may enjoy the respite that school hours provide.

With the start of a new school year upon us, perhaps it’s a good time to revisit some of the most contentious issues that separated or divorced parents grapple with when their children are in school.

Information Sharing. A classic area of animosity involves the use of children as a conduit for information between parents, which should generally be a no-no. This places your child squarely between you and your ex-spouse, and will lead to unintended negative consequences. There should be no need for Jimmy to tell mom about the parent-teacher conference next week, because … Read More »


“Untying the Knot” Brings Divorce Further Into the Public Eye

Posted on May 29th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

There was a time when divorce was never spoken about on television or in pop culture. In 1962, “The Lucy Show” became the first program to prominently feature the character of a divorced woman (with the character of Lucy’s housemate, divorcée Vivian Bagley).

Today, popular dramas like “The Good Wife” and “Mad Men” feature main characters who are divorced, and any stigma that once existed has disappeared. Reality programs like “The Real Housewives” and “Divorce Court” allow the masses to ogle the “private” lives of those seeking fame but settling for 15 minutes of uncomfortable notoriety.

Now comes a new twist on the portrayal of divorce on television: “Untying the Knot,” which premieres on the Bravo network on June 4th at 10:00 p.m., starring New Jersey matrimonial attorney Vikki Ziegler, along with “appraisal experts” Mark and Michael Millea.

Each episode … Read More »


Dating Websites Providing More Divorce Evidence

Posted on May 5th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. No Comments

Ever wonder whether the era of online dating has led to more separations and divorces? According to a recent survey of the nation’s top divorce attorneys, the answer is yes. Fifty-nine percent of respondents in the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML) have seen an increase in the number of cases using evidence from dating websites during the past three years.

Online dating contributes to divorce rates, but is also assisting divorce lawyers across the country in building their cases with easy-to-obtain evidence that can become critical to litigation outcomes.

Of those divorce attorneys surveyed, 64% cited Match.com as a primary source, with eHarmony.com running a distant second at 9%. Fifty-seven percent of AAML respondents singled out the “Relationship Status” listed by users as the most common piece of evidence utilized in their divorce cases, while 15% noted Salary and 7% listed … Read More »


How to Survive the Dreaded Discovery Process

Posted on March 14th, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Custody, Family Law. No Comments

In the course of your divorce or custody litigation, you may be required to answer written questions under oath (Interrogatories), provide copies of various documents that are relevant to your case (Requests for Production of Documents), and admit or deny various allegations from your spouse (Requests for Admissions). Along with depositions and subpoenas, this process is collectively referred to as “discovery.” And it’s no fun.

The purpose of discovery is to enable each party to determine the facts of the case and ascertain what evidence may be available for use at trial or to effect a settlement. This prevents a “trial by ambush,” with secret witnesses and exhibits being presented without advanced notice. Responding to discovery requests is not optional, and failure to answer fully and truthfully can result in punishment by the court. Discovery can easily become a boondoggle for … Read More »


Look Out For These Traits of Lazy or Dishonest Family Lawyers

Posted on January 23rd, 2014, by Matthew Smith in Divorce, Family Law. 1 Comment

In the course of almost a decade practicing family law in Virginia, I’ve been able to identify some of the best and worst practices in the field. Four times out of five, if I’m familiar with opposing counsel in a case of mine, I’ll know how the case will proceed. After a while you can identify the attorneys who have their clients’ best interests constantly in mind, and the ones who are lazy or (far worse) less than honest and have the tendency to “milk” a case when simple solutions exist. Luckily these attorneys make up only a narrow sliver of our practice area, but their behavior can give us all a bad name.

Attorneys matter, and who you and your spouse select will have an enormous impact on the way your divorce plays out, for better or worse. Here are … Read More »


Three Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Family Lawyer

Posted on October 15th, 2013, by Matthew Smith in Custody, Divorce, Family Law. Comments Off on Three Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Family Lawyer

The choice of a family law attorney is always very personal. Given the subject matter, you’ll want to work with someone you can trust, who is nonjudgmental and willing to listen and learn about your circumstances. Considering what may be at stake, your choice of lawyer should be experienced, hard-working and committed, but also willing to find ways to save you money and help you move on as soon as is practical. From my experience, here are three questions that every potential client should have answered before making a significant financial commitment to a custody or divorce attorney:

Will you work as hard to settle my case as you will to try it? At first, this may seem unusual. Working hard to settle means caving in, right? Doesn’t extending an olive branch equate to surrender? Far from it. Contrary to popular … Read More »


How Do Courts Decide Custody Cases In Virginia?

Posted on September 2nd, 2013, by Matthew Smith in Custody, Family Law. Comments Off on How Do Courts Decide Custody Cases In Virginia?

If you have a child custody or visitation dispute on your hands, you’ll want to be aware of what elements the court will consider in making a determination. Contrary to popular belief, courts no longer have legal justification to favor the mother over the father. Instead, Virginia Code Section 20-124.3 provides a list of factors that courts must weigh before ruling on what custody and visitation arrangement is in the best interests of a child.

From my experience, these are the six most important factors considered by Virginia courts in deciding custody and visitation cases:

The Status Quo. The power of the status quo can’t be overstated. If one party stays in the marital home with the children, they will start with a leg up. They can argue that the children are comfortable in a familiar environment, with established neighborhood friends nearby and … Read More »


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