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Yearly Archives: 2021

Three Types of PFA Orders

There are three types of PFA orders in Pennsylvania.

PFA stands for Protection From Abuse.

A PFA is a restraining order that prohibits the alleged abuser from having any contact with the alleged victim.

Under Pennsylvania law, abuse is defined broadly. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats of violence, harassment, and stalking.

A person seeking protection from a family member or current or former sexual partner may obtain one of the following three types of PFA orders.

First, an Emergency PFA will last through a weekend or holiday when courts are generally closed. It expires automatically.

Second, a Temporary PFA triggers a hearing date that is supposed to occur within ten days. In Allegheny County and other counties surrounding Pittsburgh, courts grant more than 90 percent of requests for a Temporary PFA.

Third, a Final PFA may be obtained by consent, failing to appear, or after a hearing before a judge. A Final PFA may remain in place for up to three years.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearings and Settlement Options

In Allegheny County, dozens of Final PFA hearings are scheduled every day. But judges actually hear only a handful of cases.

That’s because most PFA matters get resolved out of court through settlement by the parties’ attorneys.

In Allegheny County, there are many ways to settle a PFA matter without need for a court hearing, including:

-Withdraw the Temporary PFA

-Replace the Temporary PFA with an agreement to have no contact that also may address issues of child custody and housing

-Continue the Temporary PFA for a period of time set to expire

-Consent to a Final PFA without admitting to the allegations of abuse

-Consent to a Final PFA for a duration less than the three-year maximum

At Spivak Law Firm, we are aggressive trial lawyers who have also effectively negotiated hundreds of PFA cases to meet client goals. To learn more about possible settlement options for your PFA matter, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Despite Harms, Parents Continue to Spank Kids

Parents should not use physical punishment on their kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A growing body of research demonstrates that physical punishment is actually harmful to children.

Spanking and other forms of severe discipline – such as verbally berating or humiliating a child – have been repeatedly linked to behavioral, emotional, psychological, and academic problems.

But spanking is still prevalent in American families and legal in all states.

About two-thirds of Americans agreed that “a good, hard spanking” is sometimes necessary to discipline a child, according to a recent national survey.

Spivak Law Firm handles family law and criminal defense with a special focus on child custody and Protection From Abuse (PFA). To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What is an Emergency PFA?

A person seeking protection from an abuser may obtain an Emergency PFA even when courts are generally closed.

In Allegheny County, local magistrates and a night court judge are available to grant Emergency PFAs at any time, including: on weekends, during holidays, and late at night.

An Emergency PFA expires when courts resume their regular business hours. Therefore, an Emergency PFA granted on Saturday night will generally expire the following Monday.

A person who obtains an Emergency PFA will often return to Court during regular business hours to request a Temporary PFA, which will trigger a hearing date so a judge may determine whether a Final PFA is warranted.

A Final PFA can last up to three years.

The person accused of abuse does not receive any notice or opportunity to defend against the Emergency PFA or Temporary PFA.

Defendants are given the opportunity to challenge the abuse accusations at the Final PFA hearing before a judge.

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

Divorce: Fleeing an Abusive Spouse

There are many forms of spousal abuse: mental, emotional, physical, and sexual.

If you are the victim of spousal abuse, there are actions you can take to protect yourself.

You may file a criminal complaint with your local police department and seek to press charges if you are the victims of physical or sexual abuse. Domestic abuse charges commonly include: assault, harassment, stalking, reckless endangerment, and terroristic threats.

You may also consider filing for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order to prohibit all contact and even have the abuser evicted from the marital residence. A PFA may be obtained on grounds of physical violence, sexual violence, harassment, or stalking.

If you are suffering mental or emotional abuse, you may request a hearing for exclusive possession of the marital residence, which would enable you to stay in your home during the divorce process and prohibit your abuser from the premises.

If you need immediate shelter from an abusive partner, there are many resources available to assist you.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all family law and criminal defense matters with a special focus on child custody and domestic abuse. Call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

CYF and Child Custody

In high-conflict custody cases, one parent may inappropriately use Child Youth and Families (CYF) as a tool to harass or control the other parent.

One possible consequence of a CYF investigation is that children may be removed from the care of the allegedly abusive or neglectful parent.

The assigned CYF caseworker may eventually make a finding that no abuse occurred.

However, at that point, your children may have already been removed from your care for months.

At Spivak Law Firm, we work hard to expedite the process so parents accused of abuse are reunited with their children as quickly as possible.

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

Crime Victims’ Rights in Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, crime victims have the right to:

  • Be notified of significant actions and proceedings pertaining to their case
  • Have a victim advocate providing support at proceedings
  • Submit a victim impact statement prior to the sentencing of a defendant
  • Receive restitution and the return of seized property

Enacted in 1998, the Pennsylvania Crime Victims Act includes a section titled the Crime Victims Bill of Rights.

Today, Pennsylvania lawmakers are considering whether to enshrine the rights of crime victims in the state’s constitution under Marsy’s Law.

Based in Pittsburgh, Spivak Law Firm handles all family law and criminal defense matters.

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

Helping Parents Cope With Remote Learning

Remote learning has proven difficult or even disastrous for many students who have seen their grades drop since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Parents, too, have been strained both financially and emotionally as they try to work while giving their kids the support they need.

For parents who are now effectively listening in on their children’s classes for the first time, the tone or style of a teacher’s approach to correcting students can be stressful to overhear.

Witnessing our kids’ experiences can be jarring for a parent, as they may be criticized or scolded for not paying attention or not being prepared.

A recent article in The Washington Post describes ways for parents to cope: “Just acknowledging the emotional labor and time that goes into navigating remote school is an important step.”

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all family law matters, including: divorce, child custody, child support, and Protection From Abuse (PFA).

Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Collaborative Divorce Guidelines

The new Pennsylvania Collaborative Law Act provides several guidelines for people seeking to obtain a collaborative divorce, including:

  • Establishing minimum requirements for collaborative practice participation agreements
  • Providing specific standards to determine when and how the collaborative process begins and concludes
  • Requiring the disqualification of collaborative lawyers from appearing before a court to represent a party in a proceeding related to the legal matter identified in the participation agreement
  • Mandating that parties to a collaborative process provide timely, full, candid and informal disclosure of information related to resolution of the legal matter identified in the participation agreement
  • Creating a privilege for communications that occur during the collaborative process and clarifying when the privilege is not applicable or may be waived
  • Protecting the confidentiality of certain communications made during the collaborative process to the extent agreed upon by the parties
  • Providing for the enforceability of settlement agreements reached through the collaborative process

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, division of marital assets, and Protection From Abuse (PFA).

To learn more about collaborative divorce, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Where Should I Keep My Will?

Your original Last Will and Testament, signed by you and multiple witnesses, is an important legal document that will ensure your wishes are carried out.

You should keep your will in a safe place that is also accessible to the people who will need to access it after you die.

It is not generally a good idea to keep your will in a bank safety deposit box because it may not be readily accessible.

Instead, you may wish to keep it secure in a home safe or a safe located at your attorney’s office.

The person you appoint as your executor, who is charged with carrying out your wishes, should have a copy of your will with directions on where and how to access the original.

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