Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

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Pennsylvania’s Juvenile Justice System

76801927The juvenile justice system in Pennsylvania is based on the idea of Balanced and Restorative Justice, which aims to give balanced attention to victims of crime, the community, and juvenile offenders.

This system aims to restore victims to their pre-crime situation, keep the community safe, and help juveniles become productive, law-abiding citizens. Juveniles are held responsible for their actions while victims are given the chance to have a say in the court process. Every case is different, and the juvenile justice system encourages individual responses based on each case’s unique characteristics.

If your child faces juvenile delinquency, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFAs, Domestic Violence, & Child Custody

86505316What should you do if you face a Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining order while criminal domestic violence charges are also pending?

In most cases, you should continue the Temporary PFA until after the criminal case is resolved because any testimony opposing the civil PFA might be used against you in the criminal action.

If kids are involved, and the Temporary PFA restricts your right to see your kids, you may consider asking the Court for a hearing seeking supervised visitation until the criminal case is resolved. Otherwise, you run the risk of not seeing your kids for several months.

Spivak Law Firm has extensive experience handling PFAs, criminal domestic violence, and child custody matters. To speak with an attorney, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Update Your Will After Marriage Or Divorce

E000242The most important times to reassess your will include the times when your family makeup changes. For example, if you get married, everything changes to include your spouse. If you have a new child, you want to include the child in your will as well. If you have a divorce, you want to go back and change the funds and property that you are giving your soon-to-be ex-wife or ex-husband. You will also want to look at your will for other reasons to make changes.

To speak with a Pittsburgh attorney about drafting your will, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Who Can Testify At My Summary Trial?

99190846At a summary trial, judges tend to not want to hear from character witnesses.

Generally, to be a competent witness, the person testifying must have been present at the event that gave rise to the charges. All testimony must be relevant to the charges or defense, and the judge will likely not permit irrelevant testimony, such as information about the defendant’s good reputation, good driving history, etc. Each witness can be cross-examined. The judge is charged with the responsibility of conducting the trial, determining who can testify, admitting evidence, and ruling on evidentiary objections.

After all testimony and argument, the judge will announce a decision in open court at the conclusion of the trial. Once a decision has been announced, the trial is ended and the result is final.

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

Introducing Evidence at Your PFA Hearing

702075.TIFMany Protection From Abuse (PFA) matters are “he said, she said.” Any supporting evidence, including other witnesses (especially non-related witnesses) and documentary evidence, can go a long way toward prevailing at the PFA hearing. If there are photos, emails, or text messages, make sure that they have been printed, as many judges are not willing to scroll through a party’s cell phone. If there is a voicemail, make sure you have a way for it to be played in Court.

If there is no other supporting evidence, the Court decides whether to grant the PFA based on which party’s testimony appears more credible. In other words, the Court may make a “gut decision” about who is telling the truth.

To learn more about how to prepare for your PFA hearing, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Allegheny County Increases Custody Filing Fees

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersSeeking custody of your children isn’t cheap.

Earlier this year, fees associated with filing a custody action increased dramatically. For instance, the fee for filing an initial custody complaint soared from $232.50 to $325. The fee for filing a divorce complaint with a custody count jumped from $271 to $363.50. The fee for filing a petition for custody modification swelled from $200 to $250, and the fee for filing a custody complaint after a divorce action has been filed spiked from $108.50 to $220.50. Additionally a new fee of $200 will be assessed for reinstating a custody action.

In Allegheny County, all fees for custody actions are collected by the Department of Court Records on the first floor of the City County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219. In some cases involving low-income parties, custody filing fees may be waived by the Court.

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

What Is A Simple Will?

108696191A simple will is the most common type of will today. These wills are not joint wills, as they serve only for one person.

A simple will is a single piece of documentation that describes your wishes. When this type of will is used, it states that the document is your will. It lists your beneficiaries, including any charities, and their addresses and birth dates. In addition, it names the executor of your will and possibly a secondary executor, in case the first cannot provide for you. It also includes your directions for who will care for your children and your property, as well as distribute your assets as you direct.

To have a Pittsburgh attorney draft your will, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Shielding Kids In High-Conflict Divorce

102719637Parents who do not engage in physical violence but do engage in hostile communications must understand the negative impact of such conduct on their child. Every effort should be made to shield the child from the hostilities. Proposing that all communications be by email or text is one way to do so; however, it is often necessary to put boundaries around such communications.

When it is financially viable, parents in high-conflict situations should use the expertise of skilled practitioners in co-parent counseling and meet regularly to address ongoing issues.

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

Summary Offenses Can Carry Stiff Penalties

133338146Although a summary offense is low-level crime, you should seriously consider retaining an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight the charge because a conviction can have long-lasting adverse effects.

Summary offenses may carry stiff penalties, including fines and up to 90 days in jail. Additionally, you cannot even begin the process of expunging a summary offense from your criminal record for five years.

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

Providing Records to Your Divorce Lawyer

111787230Once the divorce process is under way, your lawyer will need ready access to all relevant financial documents. Start by locating and gathering together the following records pertaining to both you and your spouse:

  • Social Security numbers
  • Income tax returns for the past three years
  • Retirement savings plans statements for the past three years
  • Bank account statements
  • Insurance policies (life; automobile; house; other)
  • Stock certificates
  • Credit card bills
  • Employment payment stubs
  • Brokerage statements
  • Pension statements
  • Health insurance and work-related benefits
  • Real estate records
  • Receipts and monthly statements documenting household expenses and everyday expenses (groceries, gas, heat, water, personal grooming, transportation, gifts, clothing, laundry and cleaning supplies, entertainment, miscellaneous expenses, and so forth)
  • List of all assets and liabilities
  • Date of separation (the date of separation is the date used to determine the value of particular assets – the matrimonial home, bank statements, investments, and so forth)

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