Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

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Don’t Let A PFA Stop You From Being A Parent

dandelion wishing blowing seedsUnder Pennsylvania law, you can file for custody even if there is a Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining order against you. If the PFA does not allege abuse against a child, you may even be entitled to primary or shared custody.

If the PFA does include allegations of abuse against a child, you still may get time with your child depending on the circumstances. In such cases, there may be a period of time where your custody visits are supervised. But supervised custody tends to be temporary, so hang in there and you’ll eventually see your custody time increase.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all PFA and child custody matters. We represent clients in Pittsburgh and all nearby counties including: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

In Her Own Words: PFA Contained Plea For Help

116926544On December 30, 2014, Pittsburgh resident James Karr tied up his estranged wife Maureen, doused her with vodka, and set her ablaze. “He was threatening to set the house on fire,” Maureen Karr wrote just two weeks earlier in a Temporary  Protection From Abuse (PFA) petition filed in Allegheny County.

Charged with homicide and arson, James Karr currently sits in Allegheny County Jail awaiting his preliminary hearing set for January 9th.

Below is a transcript of the Temporary PFA petition that Maureen Karr wrote out herself with a pen just two weeks before she burned to death:

Approximate Date and Time: 12-12-14 @ 7:00 a.m.

Place: 132 Friendship St., Duquesne, PA 15110

James [Karr] threw bottles out onto the street causing glass to go on sidewalk & street. He was threatening to set the house on fire. After I fleed [sic] the house to a neighbors. We witnessed him going outside & stabbing my tires flattening all 4. James then pulled car window down & threw sewing machine & ceiling fan on the street. He called police stating I threw the bottles. While talking with 911 police came & handcuffed James & took him from the premises as he was still outside. He was later 302’d to the hospital. Have received numerous harassing & name calling phone calls[….]

Describe Any Prior Incidents Of AbuseJames becomes irrate [sic] & flips out breaking items in the home. About 3 years ago had a PFA against him because he pulled me down the steps causing me to fall down last two steps injuring my ribs & hip.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants in all domestic violence matters, including PFA, child custody, criminal, and CYF. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Pittsburgh Lawyer Gets PFA Against Businessman

SO000183Domestic violence knows no boundaries. It happens to young and old, rich and poor, black and white. It affects high-school dropouts and highly educated professionals.

Every day in Allegheny County, dozens of people arrive in family court for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearing. Last month, a well-respected Pittsburgh attorney sought protection against a successful entrepreneur.

Allegheny County Assistant District Attorney Lisa Pellegrini obtained a Temporary PFA against her former boyfriend, local restaurateur Ray Burg, for allegedly slamming her head against a car dashboard. Criminal charges are pending against Burg, owner of Burg’s In The Burgh, located on Forbes Avenue in downtown Pittsburgh.

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

Despite PFA, Pittsburgh Wife Brutally Murdered

111787230A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order is a powerful tool that restricts an abuser from having any contact with his or her victim under threat of arrest.

But, tragically, a PFA in some cases is still just a piece of paper.

On New Year’s Day, a man from Duquesne was charged with homicide and arson for setting a fire that killed his wife. According to news reports, the man tied her up, poured vodka on her, and lit the alcohol.

Two weeks earlier, she had obtained a Temporary PFA against him. But the PFA did not save her life.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants at PFA hearings in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Clarion County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

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

PFAs Granted For Roommates, Lovers, Relatives

86505316You can only get a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order against someone you’re related to, right?

Wrong!

Pennsylvania law states that a PFA can be granted against “family or household members, sexual or intimate partners, or persons who share biological parenthood.”

Thus, you can get a PFA against your roommate, your boyfriend/girlfriend, your brother/sister, your parent, your child, or your spouse.

In some states, like California, a person can get a restraining order against a stranger. For instance, movie stars sometimes resort to such orders to prevent stalking by fans. Pennsylvania law does not go that far.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive advocacy for plaintiffs and defendants in PFA cases in Pittsburgh and all nearby counties, including: Allegheny County, Washington County, Beaver County, Butler County, Westmoreland County, Indiana County, Clarion County, and Fayette County. To speak with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Custody Relocation Hearings in Pennsylvania

126998623When a custodial parent wants to relocate with the child outside the jurisdiction and the non-custodial parent does not consent, there must first be an evidentiary hearing, at which the court will apply a three-prong test to determine whether relocation of the children can occur.

The test covers:

  • the potential advantages of the move and the likelihood that the move will substantially improve the quality of life for the custodial parent and the child, and is not the result of a momentary whim on the part of the custodial parent;
  • the integrity of the motives of both the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent in either seeking the move or opposing the move; and
  • the availability of alternative, realistic, substitute visitation or partial custody for the non-custodial parent.

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

How to Withdraw a PFA in Pennsylvania

83496541In Pennsylvania, a victim of domestic violence can get a Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining order against the perpetrator lasting as long as three years. The PFA restricts the abuser from having any contact whatsoever with the victim, including contact by phone, email, text, social media, or third persons.

But what if the victim no longer thinks the PFA is necessary? Can the PFA simply be vacated or withdrawn? In many cases, the answer is yes, though counties have their own unique processes for making the PFA go away.

For instance, in some Pennsylvania counties, the victim needs to formally file a motion to vacate the PFA and present it to the court. In other jurisdictions, the victim may simply ask the court’s PFA administrator to fill out a form. In all cases, the victim should be prepared to explain to a judge why the PFA is no longer necessary. If the judge disagrees, the PFA may remain in effect whether the victim likes it or not.

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

A Brief History of Child Custody

Beautiful baby of three months old in his mothers hands.In child custody cases today, both parents increasingly enjoy significant amounts of parenting time. Recent studies show that child custody norms are changing significantly in the 21st century, with the proportion of parents sharing custody rising dramatically.

Historically, shared custody was never the norm.

In colonial times, American Courts followed the English common law rule that upon divorce the father retained custody of the children. Fathers had the right to the physical custody, labor and earnings of their children in exchange for supporting, educating, and training them to earn their livelihoods. At that time, mothers did not have legally enforceable parental rights.

This bias toward men flipped in the early 20th century with two cultural transformations: the industrial revolution’s remaking men into marketplace wage earners and the emergence of women as domestic caregivers. Under the “tender years” doctrine, custody of young children was almost exclusively awarded to mothers upon divorce.

Mounting divorce rates in the 1960s and ensuing decades provoked a lively debate about parental roles and custody issues. The movement for gender equality, along with the rise of fathers’ rights groups, called attention to the importance of both parents in the care of children.

In most states today, including Pennsylvania, the standard for deciding custody cases is based on the best interests of the child. This standard opens up the possibility of excessive judicial discretion as well as a threat of inconsistent rulings, resulting in hotly contested custody battles.

But it has also led to the rise of shared custody orders, as judges increasingly follow the recommendations of family psychologists who espouse the benefits to children who have equal time with both parents.

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

When Filing a PFA Petition May Be Improper

78629806You may not file a Protection From Abuse (PFA) petition:

–Against someone who is merely your neighbor or an acquaintance;

–To stop mental abuse, emotional abuse, or property destruction;

–To obtain a custody order or to resolve a custody dispute.

A PFA Order is a powerful tool for restricting an abuser from contacting his or her victim, but it is not appropriate in every circumstance.

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

Fathers’ Rights In Child Custody Cases

78287715Is there a bias against men in custody court?

Is it the court’s knee-jerk reaction to give primary physical custody to the Mother?

Many people believe that yes, of course, women have an inherent advantage in child custody disputes. As a result, men may talk themselves out of seeking time with their kids. Do not make this mistake.

Spivak Law Firm fights hard for father’s rights. We believe firmly that, in most cases, parents should have equal access to their children.

We have successfully united many fathers with their kids, ensuring a shared custody schedule, shared holiday time, and shared vacation time.

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