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Yearly Archives: 2014

PFAs Granted For Roommates, Lovers, Relatives

86505316You can only get a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order against someone you’re related to, right?

Wrong!

Pennsylvania law states that a PFA can be granted against “family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or persons who share biological parenthood.”

Thus, you can get a PFA against your roommate, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your brother/sister, your parent, your child, or your spouse.

In some states, like California, a person can get a restraining order against a stranger. For instance, movie stars sometimes resort to such orders to prevent stalking by fans. Pennsylvania law does not go that far.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive advocacy for plaintiffs and defendants in PFA cases in Pittsburgh and all nearby counties, including: Allegheny County, Washington County, Beaver County, Butler County, Westmoreland County, Indiana County, Clarion County, and Fayette County. To speak with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Custody Relocation Hearings in Pennsylvania

126998623When a custodial parent wants to relocate with the child outside the jurisdiction and the non-custodial parent does not consent, there must first be an evidentiary hearing, at which the court will apply a three-prong test to determine whether relocation of the children can occur.

The test covers:

  • the potential advantages of the move and the likelihood that the move will substantially improve the quality of life for the custodial parent and the child, and is not the result of a momentary whim on the part of the custodial parent;
  • the integrity of the motives of both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent in either seeking the move or opposing the move; and
  • the availability of alternative, realistic, substitute visitation or partial custody for the non-custodial parent.

To speak with an experienced child custody lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

How to Withdraw a PFA in Pennsylvania

83496541In Pennsylvania, a victim of domestic violence can get a Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining order against the perpetrator lasting as long as three years. The PFA restricts the abuser from having any contact whatsoever with the victim, including contact by phone, email, text, social media, or third persons.

But what if the victim no longer thinks the PFA is necessary? Can the PFA simply be vacated or withdrawn? In many cases, the answer is yes, though counties have their own unique processes for making the PFA go away.

For instance, in some Pennsylvania counties, the victim needs to formally file a motion to vacate the PFA and present it to the court. In other jurisdictions, the victim may simply ask the court’s PFA administrator to fill out a form. In all cases, the victim should be prepared to explain to a judge why the PFA is no longer necessary. If the judge disagrees, the PFA may remain in effect whether the victim likes it or not.

To speak with an experienced Pennsylvania PFA lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

A Brief History of Child Custody

Beautiful baby of three months old in his mothers hands.In child custody cases today, both parents increasingly enjoy significant amounts of parenting time. Recent studies show that child custody norms are changing significantly in the 21st century, with the proportion of parents sharing custody rising dramatically.

Historically, shared custody was never the norm.

In colonial times, American Courts followed the English common law rule that upon divorce the father retained custody of the children. Fathers had the right to the physical custody, labor and earnings of their children in exchange for supporting, educating, and training them to earn their livelihoods. At that time, mothers did not have legally enforceable parental rights.

This bias toward men flipped in the early 20th century with two cultural transformations: the industrial revolution’s remaking men into marketplace wage earners and the emergence of women as domestic caregivers. Under the “tender years” doctrine, custody of young children was almost exclusively awarded to mothers upon divorce.

Mounting divorce rates in the 1960s and ensuing decades provoked a lively debate about parental roles and custody issues. The movement for gender equality, along with the rise of fathers’ rights groups, called attention to the importance of both parents in the care of children.

In most states today, including Pennsylvania, the standard for deciding custody cases is based on the best interests of the child. This standard opens up the possibility of excessive judicial discretion as well as a threat of inconsistent rulings, resulting in hotly contested custody battles.

But it has also led to the rise of shared custody orders, as judges increasingly follow the recommendations of family psychologists who espouse the benefits to children who have equal time with both parents.

To schedule a free consultation with an experienced child custody attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

When Filing a PFA Petition May Be Improper

You may not file a Protection From Abuse (PFA) petition:

–Against someone who is merely your neighbor or an acquaintance;

–To stop mental abuse, emotional abuse, or property destruction;

–To obtain a custody order or to resolve a custody dispute.

A PFA Order is a powerful tool for restricting an abuser from contacting his or her victim, but it is not appropriate in every circumstance.

To schedule a free consultation with an experienced PFA lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Fathers’ Rights In Child Custody Cases

78287715Is there a bias against men in custody court?

Is it the court’s knee-jerk reaction to give primary physical custody to the Mother?

Many people believe that yes, of course, women have an inherent advantage in child custody disputes. As a result, men may talk themselves out of seeking time with their kids. Do not make this mistake.

Spivak Law Firm fights hard for father’s rights. We believe firmly that, in most cases, parents should have equal access to their children.

We have successfully united many fathers with their kids, ensuring a shared custody schedule, shared holiday time, and shared vacation time.

To speak with an experienced child custody and fathers’ rights attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

3 Types of PFA Orders in Pennsylvania

133338146There are three types of Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders:

  • Emergency PFA Orders are issued by a District Justice when the Court is closed during non-business hours. An emergency PFA Order expires at the end of the next business day for the Court.
  • Temporary PFA Orders are issued by the Court of Common Pleas until a final hearing can be held, which is scheduled within ten business days.
  • Final PFA Orders are entered as a result of an appearance before the Court where both parties have the chance to be heard by the Judge.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants at PFA hearings in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

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

 

Who Can File a PFA?

77005984Under Pennsylvania law, to file a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order, there must be a current or former relationship between the victim and the abuser.

A relationship is defined as a spouse, ex-spouse, or persons who have lived like spouses; a current or former sexual or intimate partner; a parent or child; a brother or sister; or other persons related by blood or marriage.

If you are a minor under 18, a parent, guardian, or another adult household member may file on your behalf.

If you do not meet the relationship criteria above, a PFA Order cannot be entered.

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

PFA Law Gives 5 Definitions Of “Abuse”

702075.TIFPennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse (PFA) Law lists five definitions of “abuse”:

The first definition of “abuse” involves physical or sexual violence. The law states: “Attempting to cause or intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing bodily injury, serious bodily injury, rape, involuntary deviate sexual intercourse, sexual assault, statutory sexual assault, aggravated indecent assault, indecent assault or incest with or without a deadly weapon.” These are the types of conduct people most commonly associate with domestic violence.

Many people are surprised to learn that the second definition of “abuse” involves mere threats. The law states: “Placing another in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” Thus, an angry email or text threatening harm or death may be sufficient to grant a PFA order.

The third definition of “abuse” refers to false imprisonment. The law states: “A person commits an offense if he knowingly restrains another unlawfully so as to interfere substantially with his liberty.” Thus, for example, blocking someone from leaving a residence could result in a PFA against you.

The fourth definition of “abuse” specifically involves children. The law states: “Physically or sexually abusing minor children.” The PFA law then refers to statutes involving Child Protective Services.

The fifth definition of “abuse” refers to stalking. The law states: “Knowingly engaging in a course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another person, including following the person, without proper authority, under circumstances which place the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.”

As you can see, Pennsylvania’s PFA law is very broad. Judges have wide discretion in determining whether a PFA is warranted.

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

Tips for Discussing Your Child’s Weekend Away

102719637Whether or not you like your former spouse and whether or not you agree with his or her parenting style, there is not much you can do about what occurs at the other home. Children are generally entitled to spend time with both parents.

Your task is to send them off in the same way you would if you were sending them anywhere else where you wanted them to have a good time while they’re away from you, such as camp or school. Family counselors recommend the following transition tips on discussing your children’s weekend spent away at the other parent’s home:

  • Ask your children how their weekend was. To not ask about what goes on when they are apart from you would send the wrong message. Your child might think that you are not interested, or that you can’t stand to hear about them enjoying time with the other parent.
  • The motivation for asking about the weekend should be to serve the child’s needs, not to have your curiosity satisfied.
  • When children sense that they are being used as spies to report on what is going on in the other home, or when you react to the news with frowns, raised eyebrows, or sarcastic comments, the kids sense that you are not genuinely interested in sharing their lives with them as much as you are about getting some gossip about the other family.

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