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Monthly Archives: December 2014

PFAs Granted For Roommates, Lovers, Relatives

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


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.