Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA


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4 Goals At Preliminary Hearings


Criminal Pic3If you’re criminally charged with a misdemeanor of felony, you should have an experienced criminal defense attorney at your preliminary hearing. Here’s why:

First, there is an opportunity to resolve your entire case at the preliminary hearing. For instance, if you’re charged with a domestic-violence crime such as assault, harassment, or terroristic threats, your attorney may be able to reach a deal for dismissal of all charges upon completion of anger management classes.

Second, your attorney may be able strike a deal to drop certain charges in exchange for waiving the preliminary hearing.

Third, your attorney can cross-examine witnesses at the preliminary hearing to undermine their credibility and possibly get the charges against you dismissed.

Fourth, your attorney can cross-examine witnesses to create a record for trial.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation at preliminary hearings. To schedule a free consultation, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Calculating Child Support in Pennsylvania


Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersQ: How do courts calculate child support?


A: Courts follow support guidelines created by the Pennsylvania Legislature when determining a child support order. Under Pennsylvania law, both parents must continue to support their children even after a divorce. The obligation generally continues until the child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens last. In determining a child support obligation, courts consider the incomes or earning capacities of both parents. Statewide support guidelines establish a presumptive amount of support with the primary focus placed on income.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and PFAs. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Divorce: Living Separately Under One Roof


ConflictGiven today’s economic realities, it is not at all uncommon for married couples to continue living together even after separating and heading toward divorce.

After all, many families struggle to keep up with their expenses in one household. Taking on a second mortgage or another monthly rental payment may not be an option.

Even if the parties still live together, it is possible to establish a date of separation for purposes of divorce so long as the parties:

  • Separate bank accounts. The parties should separate their finances by opening individual bank accounts.
  • Abstain from marital sex. The parties should no longer share a bedroom or bed.
  • Do not hold themselves out as married. The parties should refrain from describing themselves as a married couple to others in the community.

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.

Child Custody In Cases Involving Rape


702075.TIFMothers of children conceived by rape can be forced to share custody of the child with their rapists. Many states allow courts to terminate the parental rights of rapists, but most of them require that the men first be convicted. However, less than one-fifth of rapes are even reported, and only about 5 percent of those result in convictions.

Last year, Congress passed the Rape Survivor Child Custody Act, which pledges money for states that pass laws denying parental rights to men if the mothers show in family court that they have been raped. In family court, the victims need only prove that the rape occurred by “clear and convincing” evidence – not the tougher “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard used in criminal courts.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in all family law and criminal defense matters. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Understanding Marital Property


Family Pic3Q: I always drove the Toyota and my husband always drove the Ford. Both cars were bought during the marriage, but only my husband’s name is on the titles. Now that we’re getting a divorce, my husband says both cars belong to him. Is he right?

A: No. Under Pennsylvania law, virtually all property acquired by either spouse during the marriage is deemed marital property subject to equitable distribution by the court or through a marital settlement agreement. Thus, it does not matter that the cars are titled only in your husband’s name. The cars are marital property jointly owned by both spouses.

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

Expand Expungements In Pennsylvania

Expunge Pic5A criminal record can ruin your job opportunities. In Pennsylvania, convictions for misdemeanors and felonies will stay on your record for life – even for people who go decades without ever re-offending.

But that might change.

Currently the Pennsylvania Legislature is considering proposals to expand expungements to misdemeanors after a period of good behavior.

Some proposals offer expungements after a period of seven years of freedom from arrest or prosecution for third-degree misdemeanors. Other proposals offer expungements to individuls under 25-years-old for second-degree misdemeanors after ten years free of arrest or prosecution.

Spivak Law Firm understands the importance of a clean criminal record. To speak with an experienced expungement lawyer, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What to Expect At Your Child Support Hearing

Custody Pic5In Allegheny County, many people resolve child support issues without need for a hearing. Parties first disclose their income and expenses to a domestic-relations officer usually in a small office or cubicle. The officer will usually run calculations based on state support guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Legislature. The parties then have an opportunity to reach an agreement as to the amount of support, if any. The officer at this first level does not have authority to enter a recommendation.

If the parties do not reach agreement, they will attend a hearing on the same day. The hearing is a mini-trial in which each party is sworn under oath and permitted to testify, introduce evidence, and cross-examine one another. The hearing officer will hear testimony, accept evidence, and issue a recommendation within 30 days. If either party is dissatisfied with the recommendation, he or she may file an appeal known as exceptions to be reviewed by the judge assigned to the case.

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

Key Factors for Child Custody

Family Pic6Judges consider many factors when determining a child custody schedule. A child’s preference is just one of many factors. As children get older, courts may give greater weight to the child’s preference, though many judges do not want to hear directly from children. After all, it can be traumatizing for a child to choose between parents.

An important factor for determining custody is promoting consistency for the children. Courts generally will not disturb an existing arrangement or move children from their current school if they are doing well. Courts are also reluctant to split siblings between parents.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in child custody cases. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

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.