Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

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Monthly Archives: October 2013

Who Can File for Child Custody in Pennsylvania?

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersTo seek custody rights over a minor child, a person must have “legal standing.” A child’s biological parents have legal standing to file a custody action. Who else can file for custody? A person who has acted as a parent to the child and taken on the responsibilities of parenthood for a period of time may have legal standing. Additionally, grandparents may have legal standing to seek custody of their minor grandchildren in limited circumstances as described here.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in child custody matters. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

5 Goals of ARD in Allegheny County

133338146In Allegheny County, the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program is commonly offered to most first-time, non-violent offenders. If participants complete the program’s requirements, they may get their criminal records expunged or erased. There are five goals of the ARD program:

(1)  Clean Slate: To provide first-time, non-violent offenders an opportunity to have their criminal charges expunged

(2)  Atonement: To hold offenders responsible while providing them an opportunity to atone for their criminal behavior

(3)  Rehabilitation: To provide offenders with treatment options

(4)  Restitution: To restore the financial burden incurred by the victim

(5)  Efficiency: To enable the courts to dispose of cases in a cost-effective manner

To speak with a Pittsburgh criminal attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll fee at (800) 545-9390.

What If Your Ex Violates the Custody Order?

102719637You have a child custody order, but your ex continually violates it. Maybe your ex withholds the child during your custody time or fails to return the child on time. Or maybe your ex unilaterally makes big decisions about where the child goes to school without receiving your input or consent. What can you do?

When a child custody order is entered, family courts expect both parents to comply with its terms. You may seek to hold a non-compliant parent in contempt of court. If a parent is found to be in contempt for failing to follow the court order, the other parent may be awarded make-up time for the missed visits as well as other sanctions such as payment of attorney fees.

To speak with an experienced Pittsburgh family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Improving Justice for Juveniles in Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has adopted new rules for the state’s juvenile courts in response to the despicable “kids for cash” scandal that led to federal convictions for two Luzerne County judges. The new rules, which were based on recommendations from the Interbranch Commission on Juvenile Justice, include as follows:

  • Limiting the use of restraints on a juvenile in the courtroom;
  • Requiring juveniles to have an attorney present during court proceedings;
  • Establishing an extensive question-and-answer process with the judge before a juvenile can enter a plea agreement; and
  • Creating an expedited appeal process when a juvenile is removed from his or her home as a sentence.

The new rules are a direct response to the “kids for cash” scandal, in which two Luzerne County judges had accepted more than $2.5 million in kickbacks from private juvenile facilities from 2003 to 2008. The judges had removed some 2,500 juveniles from their homes for minor offenses and sent them to juvenile facilities in exchange for money.

To speak with an Allegheny County juvenile law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (12) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Spivak Law Firm Wins Summary Trial

99190846 copy2It was St. Patrick’s Day, and Sam (not his real name) and his wife went out with some friends to a bar on Carson Street in Pittsburgh’s South Side to celebrate. The place was noisy and crowded. They were there for maybe half an hour when a bouncer grabbed Sam and told him to leave for pushing a waitress. Sam had no idea what the bouncer was talking about. Neither did his wife, who was standing beside Sam the entire time. Sam was naturally upset; he ignored the bouncer. A police officer then led Sam outside. Sam protested that he didn’t push anybody, but the officer cuffed him anyway.

Months later, Sam appeared with his attorney from Spivak Law Firm for a summary trial at Pittsburgh Municipal Court downtown. Sam faced charges of public intoxication and defiant criminal trespass. Sam wanted to fight these charges, which he felt were unfair. He also did not want any convictions on his record. At the courthouse, the arresting police officer refused to drop the charges, so we asked for a hearing. In the end, the judge dismissed the charges.

“Mr. Spivak was very responsive to all my questions and concerns,” said Sam. “His professional demeanor was excellent in court.”

Many people charged with summary offenses make the mistake of pleading guilty rather than fighting the charges. Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense for people facing criminal charges. When the charges are dropped, we also help to erase our clients’ criminal records by petitioning the court for an expungement.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.