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Equitable Distribution

Divorce Lawyer in Fairfax

After child custody and visitation, property division is usually the most contentious issue in divorce. If a lot is at stake, it can be particularly contentious — and the contention can, in turn, make the division more complicated.

Attorney Richard L. Downey brings vast experience to your case to achieve a fair resolution for you, effectively and efficiently, regardless the size of the estate.

Virginia law requires an "equitable" distribution, which is not to be confused with "equal." Instead it requires a distribution that would be fair in the eyes of a judge having weighed certain factors. A settlement out of court is preferable, when the distribution of assets is equitable.

The Marital Estate

The total of all property and assets owned must be inventoried, valued and divided. However, separate property is not included. Separate property consists of assets the parties brought into the marriage, gifts to one party only, and inheritance. Frequently these assets are commingled and challenging to characterize one way or the other. Hybrid property, i.e. part marital and part separate presents challenges in proper evaluation.


An obvious factor in property division is a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, where the parties formally agreed to a certain distribution of property, should divorce occur. If both parties disclosed their financial situation fairly, and knowingly executed the agreement it will be respected.

Hidden Assets

One party may convince him or herself that it is fair under the circumstances to hide assets and avoid inclusion in the distribution. For example, self-employed people can more easily move funds or manipulate income records. We may employ forensic accountants and other professionals when appropriate not only to evaluate disclosed assets, but to locate undisclosed assets, if there is reason to believe there are hidden assets.

Divorce Attorney in Fairfax

Marital property attorney Richard L. Downey handles these matters on a daily basis. While they are complicated, he has seen and learned much in more than 30 years, about effectively handling these cases. To schedule an appointment with a Fairfax retirement benefits and divorce lawyer, and certified trial attorney call us at 703-273-8800 or contact us online.