Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Yearly Archives: 2015

Spivak Law Firm Seeks PFA Reforms

PFA Pic1Attorney Todd Spivak recently participated on a panel at Duquesne University School of Law to advocate reforming Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse (PFA) laws.

A PFA, also commonly known as a restraining order, is a powerful tool that can evict you from your home, restrict you from your children, and prohibit you from possessing firearms.

Attorney Spivak has long advocated for reforming the PFA law to curb false claims of abuse. Proposals for reform include as follows:

  • Courts should make it easier to allow defendants to recover attorney fees when a PFA is withdrawn or dismissed.
  • District attorneys should criminally prosecute serial filers of bogus PFAs.
  • Temporary PFAs should be removed from the public database when a PFA is later withdrawn or dismissed.

Other panelists included Allegheny Court of Common Pleas Judge Kim D. Eaton and Attorney Tom Putinsky, winner of the Edgar G. O’Connor Fellows Award for outstanding public service.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation at PFA hearings for plaintiffs and defendants. To speak with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Spivak Law Firm Frees Inmate

Expunge Pic8Thanks to Spivak Law Firm, Doug (not his real name) is a free man again.

Doug violated his probation and ended up back in Allegheny County Jail for a domestic dispute. We negotiated an agreement to dismiss the charges upon completion of anger-management counseling.

But that would take six months.

And Doug’s probation violation hearing would not even be scheduled until he completed the counseling. That means he would likely sit in jail for at least eight months until a judge would even consider his release.

Spivak Law Firm petitioned the judge to lift Doug’s detainer. At the hearing, we persuaded the judge to lift the detainer so Doug could go back to work and help raise his infant child.

Instead of waiting eight months, Doug was back at his job and seeing his baby after just three weeks.

“Thank you for helping me get a second chance,” Doug told us after his release.

Spivak Law Firm handles all criminal matters including: felony, misdemeanor and summary charges, probation violations, and criminal-record expungements. Call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Key Time Periods for Divorce in Pennsylvania

Empty Pittsburgh BridgeUnder Pennsylvania divorce law, there are three main time periods that parties should consider:

  • Six Months: Before you can file for divorce in Pennsylvania, you or your spouse must have resided in the state for at least six months.
  • 90 Days: If you and your spouse consent to a divorce, you still must wait 90 days before the court will grant a final decree.
  • Two Years: If one spouse does not consent to a divorce, then the spouse seeking the divorce must wait two years before requesting a final decree. Currently Pennsylvania is considering legislation to reduce the waiting period to one year.

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

4 Reasons to Modify Child Support

child blowing away dandelion seeds in the blue sky

Either parent may seek to modify a child support order at any time. The moving party will need to show a substantial change of circumstances occurred since the final order was entered by the court.

What constitutes a substantial change of circumstances?

Common examples include:

  • One parent gets more custody time
  • One parent gets a significant pay increase
  • One parent gets laid off from work
  • A child seeks to participate in a new extra-curricular activity

Do not voluntarily quit a job to avoid paying child support, as a court can assign an earning capacity based on past income levels.

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

5 Reasons To Fight A Summary Offense

If you’re charged with a summary offense, fight it. Here’s why:

First, if the police officer doesn’t show up to the hearing, the judge will dismiss it.

Second, if you did not commit the crime, you should never plead guilty just for the sake of expediency.

Third, even if you committed the crime alleged, your attorney may be able to strike a deal. For instance, the charges may be dismissed on condition that you complete community service.

Fourth, even if you’re found guilty at the summary trial, you have the right to appeal within 30 days and get a new trial before a different judge.

Fifth, a conviction will remain on your criminal record for five years before you can even begin the process of expungement.

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

Reduce Waiting Period for Divorce

Conflict between the man and the woman

If one spouse does not consent to a divorce, then the spouse seeking the divorce must wait two years before requesting a final decree. Currently Pennsylvania is considering legislation to reduce the waiting period for a contested divorce to one year.

Pennsylvania House Bill 380 calls for reducing the waiting period for a no-fault divorce based on separation from two years to one.

Proponents of the legislation say that expediting divorce will enable courts to focus greater attention on child custody disputes.

“Where the divorce is inevitable,” attorney Maryann Modesti testified at a recent meeting of the Pennsylvania House Judiciary Committee, “allowing the family to focus on the challenge of co-parenting as divorced parents is better than the emotional toll of a delay in the divorce litigation.”

Currently many other states impose a short waiting period than two years. For instance: Maryland has a one-year waiting period; New York has a six-month waiting period; and West Virginia imposes no waiting period at all.

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

Domestic Violence on Thanksgiving

Worried man

Police frequently receive an increase in domestic violence calls and family feuds on Thanksgiving.

Holidays can be stressful. Family tension mixed with alcohol can lead to dangerous situations.

Domestic-violence experts recommend identifying easy exits and establishing code words with children who can run to neighbors for help if problems escalate.

If things get out of hand verbally or physically, don’t hesitate to leave the family gathering earlier than planned.

Spivak Law Firm provides aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants at PFA hearings and all criminal domestic-violence cases. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearings and Constitutional Rights

Sad man sitting head in hands on his bed

A bogus PFA wreaks havoc on a person’s life: it evicts you from your home, restricts you from seeing your kids, and subjects you to possible arrest for the mere accusation of violating the no-contact order.

In Pennsylvania, a Final PFA Hearing generally occurs within 10 days after issuance of the Temporary PFA Order.

A Final PFA Hearing must occur shortly after the Temporary PFA Order gets issued because ex parte orders are limited by the Constitution. The due process clause of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments provide that a person shall not be deprived of liberty or property without adequate notice and an opportunity to be heard.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation at PFA hearings in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County. For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Defending College Students at Summary Trials

Young woman lying on blanket in park reading book

If you’re a college student, the last thing you need is a criminal record. Even a summary offense on your record may limit your employment opportunities before and after graduation.

Spivak Law Firm routinely helps young adults in their late teens and early 20s by providing strong, effective representation at summary trials. Common offenses include:

  • Disorderly Conduct
  • Harassment
  • Retail Theft
  • Public Urination
  • Criminal Mischief
  • Underage Drinking
  • Defiant Trespass
  • Animal Cruelty
  • Loitering
  • Traffic Violations

If you’re charged with a summary offense, we recommend fighting the charge to avoid a criminal record. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Despite PFA, Man Guns Down Ex-Girlfriend

Man hitting table with fist, close-up

A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order is a powerful tool that aims to restrict a perpetrator of domestic violence from having any contact with his victim.

But sometimes a PFA is just a piece of paper.

Earlier this year, 46-year-old business owner Stacey Pennington of central Pennsylvania was shot and killed by her former boyfriend Patrick Derr. She had an active PFA that prohibited him from possessing a firearm.

Four different women got PFAs against Mr. Derr in the last 20 years. Accusations included rape and multiple incidents of choking and strangling.

But none prevented the murder-suicide that occurred this past Labor Day in Mt. Gretna, a small town of just 1,500 people located 40 miles east of Harrisburg.

“She was the sweetest woman in the whole wide world,” said one woman at Ms. Pennington’s memorial.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation for plaintiffs and defendants in PFA hearings. For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.