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Getting A Continuance In A PFA Case

77005984In most cases, Judges will allow at least one continuance in a Protection From Abuse (PFA) matter.

PFA hearings are generally scheduled within 10 days. The defendant in a PFA case should have no problem getting a continuance if he or she has not been timely served or needs additional time to retain an attorney.

Parties may be surprised when a Court won’t grant a continuance of a PFA hearing. Continuances are generally only granted for good cause. The plaintiff may not be entitled to a continued hearing date if the defendant is present and wants to go forward.

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

How To Appeal A Summary Trial Decision 

139378055Trials often determine important rights of the individuals involved. Even two reasonable people may disagree with the results of a trial. The judicial system in Pennsylvania has a built-in process where you can appeal a District Judge’s decision and be heard before a different judge. This is called a trial de novo. Allegheny County residents have 30 days from the date of a summary trial decision to file an appeal at the Department of Court Records, Room 115, Allegheny County Courthouse, in downtown Pittsburgh.

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

Phone Rules for Parents Who Share Custody

78287715There are no specific rules on how to maintain contact with your children when they are with the other parent. It depends on the age of the child, the relationship the child has with the parent, the individual characteristics of the child, and the relationship the parents have with each other. Some children want a phone call and enjoy speaking to the other parent. Other children are not verbally expressive, which makes phone conversations frustrating and difficult. Family therapists recommend abiding by the following phone rules:

  • There should be an effort by both parents to allow contact between the child and the other parent, especially if that’s what the child genuinely wants
  • The younger the child, the more contact is preferred
  • When a parent calls to speak to his or her children, have the children take responsibility for answering the phone or returning the call
  • Do not use the phone to intrude on the child’s time with the other parent or to maintain influence over the child when the child is in the other home
  • Do not use the phone to have the children spy on the other parent and report all the “bad things” that are going on
  • Use the phone in a way that serves the child’s needs, not the parent’s need to continue to influence the child and to interfere with the child’s relaxation and enjoyment of time in the other parent’s house

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.

Family Law Help in Allegheny County

111787230Not everyone struggling with issues of divorce, child custody and support can afford an attorney. Some simply wish to handle matters themselves.

In Allegheny County, the newly formed Family Division Self-Help Center guides such people through the court system. The center, which opened in January 2014, has already assisted more than 1,500 clients, according to Lawyers Journal, a publication of the Allegheny County Bar Association.

Located on the first floor of the Family Law Center at 440 Ross Street in downtown Pittsburgh, the center is open each weekday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

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

Family Law Protections for Rape Victims

Beautiful baby of three months old in his mothers hands.Earlier this summer, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives unanimously passed a bill restricting men who father children through rape from asserting child custody and visitation rights.

Additionally, the bill allows rape survivors to seek child support from their assailants, according to RH Reality Check, a daily publication focusing on reproductive health and justice, citing a 2012 article by Spivak Law Firm published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Nationwide, about 25,000 women become pregnant through rape each year.

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

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.