Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Author Archives: Todd Spivak and Rebecca Canterbury

Divorce: Who Gets The Family Pets?

When undergoing divorce or separation, you are likely worried about child custody, division of your property, and your pets.

You may view your dog or cat as a member of the family, but under Pennsylvania law, they are as much family as your television set. Pets are technically personal property, which means that a court will not order visitation or custody schedules for pets.

Courts will likely classify the pet as marital or non-marital property. If your ex purchased the pet prior to the marriage, the pet will be considered non-marital property and will likely go to your ex.

However, you have the option to bypass formal court proceedings and mediate this issue with your ex to develop an agreement that works for both of you.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: divorce, child custody, child support, and PFA hearings. To speak with an experienced family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody for Dads

Do courts always give Moms custody?

No. Times have changed; the children do not automatically go to Moms after separation. In many cases, judges award shared custody schedules or even award Dads primary physical custody.

Pennsylvania courts decide custody in the best interests of the children by weighing sixteen factors. Among the factors, your judge will consider the level of conflict between you and your ex, the distance between your residences, and your respective work schedules. But gender preference is not among the sixteen factors.

Under Pennsylvania law, Dads have as many rights as Moms to the custody of their children. In Allegheny County, judges commonly award shared custody schedules that provide each parent equal time with the kids.

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

What If A Person Lies To Get A PFA?

At Spivak Law Firm, we provide strong, aggressive defense at Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearings in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties, including: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Indiana, Mercer, Washington, and Westmoreland.

Our clients often ask us if the alleged victim will face any consequences for lying or exaggerating to the court in order to obtain the Temporary PFA order.

Unfortunately, in our experience, the answer is: no.

People falsely accused of abuse may file a complaint with the police, but the district attorney’s office is unlikely to prosecute for fear of having a chilling effect on other people seeking protection.

Even in extreme circumstances, district attorney’s offices rarely prosecute plaintiffs who have filed repeated PFA petitions in multiple counties with outrageous, unsubstantiated accusations that are later dismissed.

It is commonly known that some people abuse the PFA system in order to gain leverage in a divorce or child custody action.

At Spivak Law Firm, we handle all family law and criminal defense matters, including: PFA defense, criminal domestic violence defense, divorce, child custody, child support, and criminal record expungements.

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

Arrested For Drunk Driving?

If you’ve been arrested for drunk driving, an experienced DUI attorney can help by:

  • Determining whether police had the right to pull you over: If police lacked sufficient evidence to pull you over, then it may be considered an illegal stop rendering evidence inadmissible in court.
  • Analyzing the chemical testing procedures: Breathalyzers, for instance, can produce inaccurate results if not properly calibrated.
  • Assessing why you exhibited traits of a drunk driver: For example, your eyes may have been bloodshot due to fatigue or allergies.

Based in Pittsburgh, Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of criminal defense, including: DUI, domestic violence charges such as assault, harassment, and terroristic threats, and all preliminary hearings and summary trials. We also help people to expunge their criminal records so they can move on with their lives.

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

3 Tips For Child Custody and Divorce

Divorce can be a difficult experience for many children.

By focusing on your child’s best interest, you can ensure that they are cared for just as well as if you and your spouse were still together.

Here are three tips for maintaining your child’s best interest during divorce:

  • Encourage your child not to take sides. Don’t blame your spouse for the divorce in front of your child. Instead, remain respectful about and to your former spouse in front of your child.
  • Avoid leaning on your child for emotional support. If you need help dealing with the emotional burden of divorce, turn to a counselor or therapist. Your child will have a difficult enough time dealing with his or her own emotions without feeling responsible for yours.
  • Hire an experienced family lawyer. Navigating the divorce process can be overwhelming and stressful. A knowledgeable family attorney understands how choices made in the legal process can affect life afterwards.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support and PFA hearings. To speak with an experienced family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Law: What Is Abuse?

Under Pennsylvania Law, the term “abuse” is defined broadly when determining whether to grant a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. It does not merely include physical violence.

There are many forms of alleged “abuse” that could justify a PFA, including:

-Physical violence

-Threats of physical violence

-Sexual violence

-Threats of sexual violence

Harassment

-Stalking

-False imprisonment

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense at PFA hearings. We routinely take cases in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties, including: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Mercer County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

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

Child Custody: Parental Alienation

Parental alienation may occur when one parent continually trash talks the other parent to their children.

This behavior can have devastating results. Your children may no longer wish to see you or your extended family. And despite your repeated requests, your ex may not cooperate in efforts to address the problem.

If you’ve been alienated from your children, you can petition the court for counseling with your children. It is recommended that you seek counseling from a licensed professional who routinely handles custody and parental alienation cases. Although you may feel angry and heartbroken, be patient with your children through the process.

Spivak Law Firm routinely handles child custody matters involving allegations of parental alienation. We represent clients in all areas of family law with a special focus on child custody and domestic abuse.

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

Divorce and Marital Assets

Q: I think that my spouse is hiding marital assets – what should I do?

A: If you suspect that your spouse is hiding or misrepresenting the value of marital assets, your divorce attorney can investigate by initiating a formal discovery process.

Divorcing spouses are required to exchange documentation proving the value of marital assets, the amount of marital debt, and the incomes of both spouses. The discovery process compels the spouse to release all relevant documentation regarding marital assets, debts, and income.

Although discovery can be time-consuming, it is sometimes necessary to uncover a spouse’s hidden assets.

Spivak Law Firm provides experienced counsel to help you navigate the divorce process in a way that protects your interests. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFAs and Firearms

If you’ve been served with a Temporary PFA or if a Final PFA was entered in your case, you may have just 24 hours to surrender your guns, weapons, ammunition, and firearms license to your local sheriff’s office.

Ignoring a court order to relinquish your guns could result in up to 10 years imprisonment under federal law.

In some cases, PFA defendants could instead give their guns to a friend or family member for safekeeping, so long as the third party signed an Affidavit of Accountability with the sheriff’s office and underwent a criminal background check.

But a new Pennsylvania law prohibits the third-party safekeeping option for gun owners accused of domestic abuse.

Spivak Law Firm advises PFA defendants on how to protect their Second Amendment right to possess firearms. We provide strong, aggressive representation at PFA hearings. For more information, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Conceal Your Criminal Record

Limited access orders are Pennsylvania’s newest form of relief for people seeking to conceal their criminal records from future employers.

The order prevents any non-criminal justice agency from accessing your criminal record.

Under Pennsylvania law, a limited access order will shield from potential employers criminal history record information for people convicted of a second- or third-degree misdemeanor, or an ungraded misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of no more than two years, so long as you have been free of arrest or prosecution for a period of 10 years.

At Spivak Law Firm, we help people seal or even erase their criminal records so they can move on with their lives.

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