Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

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Monthly Archives: September 2012

Child Custody for Rapists?

The  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has published our article on how Pennsylvania law handles child custody issues in rape cases.

Pennsylvania has received national attention for offering rape victims protection against rapists who later seek child custody privileges. But even Pennsylvania’s protections are limited because judges have discretion over all child custody matters.

“We’re not going to be stupid and give custody to a rapist,” Allegheny County Common Please Judge Kathleen Mulligan told us.

But it can happen, says Chicago-based attorney and women’s rights advocate Shauna Prewitt.

“For instance,” our article states, “a rape victim may be forced to interact with her rapist for months or even years if a custody hearing precedes a rape conviction. By the time the father is eventually convicted of rape, Ms. Prewitt says, a court may find that it is in the child’s best interests for the father to have custody rights because he has established a parental presence with the child.”

To read the entire article, please click here.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law and criminal defense matters. To make an appointment, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody Rights in Pennsylvania

It is widely believed that in child custody disputes courts favor giving primary custody of the child to the mother.

But the law rejects this notion.

Pennsylvania law states: “In any action regarding the custody of the child between the parents of the child, there shall be no presumption that custody should be awarded to a particular parent.”

Thus, under the law, both parents are presumed by the court to have equal custodial rights over their child or children.

In some limited situations, a person who is not the child’s parent – a grandparent, for instance – may also assert custodial rights over the child. But even in these cases, the parent’s custodial rights take precedence.

Pennsylvania law states: “In any action regarding the custody of the child between a parent of the child and a nonparent, there shall be a presumption that custody shall be awarded to the parent.”

To learn more about your child custody rights, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Pennsylvania May Suspend Life Sentences for Juvenile Offenders

Pennsylvania is still grappling with how to interpret the United State Supreme Court’s recent landmark ruling in Miller v. Alabama that mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders constitute cruel and unusual punishment under the 8th Amendment.

The main question is whether the ruling should be applied retroactively to include the 470 people across Pennsylvania now serving mandatory life sentences for crimes they committed as juveniles. That’s more than any other state.

Not surprisingly, criminal defense organizations support retroactivity while prosecutors oppose it.

Many prosecutors even go so far as saying that Miller v. Alabama does not abolish mandatory life sentences for juvenile offenders. Instead, they say, such sentences may be given but only after there is a special sentencing hearing similar to those given in death row cases.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court hears arguments on these issues this week.

Why You Need an Experienced PFA Lawyer

In Pennsylvania, any person who files a PFA restraining order gets a free attorney. But people who are served with a PFA do not. We strongly advise that you hire our experienced PFA attorney to strongly defend you and help level the playing field. In most cases, we get the PFA dropped.

Many people who are served with a PFA make the mistake of not taking it seriously. They may not show up for their hearing. Or they may choose to represent themselves at the PFA hearing. But a PFA has severe consequences that can haunt you for years like a criminal record. If you’ve been served with a PFA, you need to take it seriously.

If you fail to appear at your PFA hearing, a judge may hit you with a no-contact order lasting three years, the maximum penalty allowed under Pennsylvania law. You can be jailed for six months for violating any provision of a PFA order – even if your accuser is lying.

If you choose to represent yourself, you run the risk of being manipulated by your accuser’s attorney. Do not make the mistake of thinking that your accuser’s lawyer is looking out for your best interests. Only your own lawyer will do that.

Many cases of alleged harassment, stalking, and abuse simply do not rise to the level of a PFA. We know Pennsylvania PFA law and can defend you from false allegations and exaggerations. If you’ve been served with a PFA, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.