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9 Sweeping Powers of a PFA Order

BU010665A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order is a very powerful tool. Under Pennsylvania law, a Court may grant any appropriate relief needed to bring about a cessation of abuse. The most typical provisions of a PFA are as follows:

(1)  direct the abuser not to abuse the victim or the victim’s minor children;

(2)  exclude the abuser from the victim’s residence where the abuser and the victim own or rent the residence together or where the victim owns or rents alone;

(3)  exclude the abuser from the victim’s residence where the abuser owns or rents alone, so long as the abuser and victim are married or have a child together;

(4)  award temporary custody of the minor children to the victim;

(5)  direct the abuser to pay spousal and/or child support to the victim;

(6)  direct the abuser to have no contact with the victim or the victim’s minor children, nor to go to where the victim or the children work or go to school, and not to harass the victim or the victim’s minor children or relatives;

(7)  direct the abuser to relinquish to the sheriff any of the defendant’s firearms;

(8)  direct the abuser to pay for reasonable losses suffered by the victim because of the abuse;

(9)  direct the abuser not to stalk the victim.

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

A Child’s Preference in Custody Cases

126998623In child custody disputes, will a judge follow the child’s preference?

It depends.

Under Pennsylvania law, a child’s preference is not controlling though it may be an important factor. A child’s preference is just one of many factors that a judge considers when determining a child custody order.

A child’s age, maturity, and intelligence must be considered and will affect the weight given to a child’s preference. Thus, the preference of a 16-year-old tends to carry far more weight than the preference of a 6-year-old.

To speak with a strong, compassionate, cost-effective child custody lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What Happens After Criminal Charges Are Filed?

200274139-001When criminal charges are filed, the defendant will be arrested or ordered to appear at a court hearing.

The defendant will be taken before a judge and advised of the charges being filed.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled within ten days. The arresting officer will notify the victim of when and where to appear for this next court date.

A judge sets the bond amount.

Bond (or bail) is the amount of money that the Defendant must pay in order to guarantee he or she will appear at the next court date. If the money is not paid, then the defendant will remain in jail and be transported by a sheriff to the next court date.

Charged with a crime? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Violating A PFA Order Brings Criminal Charges

139378055Police may arrest a defendant without a warrant for violating a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order based on probable cause even if the police did not witness the violation.

Probable cause may consist of verifying a valid PFA Order and the credible statement of the victim.

A Defendant who is arrested for violating a PFA Order will be arraigned on the charge of Indirect Criminal Contempt (ICC) by the magisterial district judge who has jurisdiction.

The burden of proof required in an ICC hearing is “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.” Punishment for violating a PFA Order is a maximum of six months in jail and a $1,000 fine.

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

“Status Quo” Is Key In Child Custody Cases

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersIn child custody cases, judges are generally reluctant to change an arrangement that is working well for a child. Judges recognize the benefit of stability in a child’s life.

“Status quo” is a term that judges frequently use to describe long-standing custody arrangements.

If you are the primary caretaker of a child, then it is important to show the judge that the status quo has been for the child to spend most nights in your care.

On the other hand, if you are seeking to expand your custody time, then you should try to create a new status quo for the child that involves more time in your care.

Some parents go to court seeking to preserve their custody time, while others aim to expand their custody time. To speak with an experienced child custody lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Ray Rice Video Shines Light on Domestic Abuse

images-1The Baltimore Ravens released Ray Rice after the media obtained a long-awaited video of the star running back brutally punching his then-fiancee.

Rice escaped criminal charges of aggravated assault, but his career in the NFL may be over. The NFL, which initially issued a mere slap on the wrist with a two-game suspension, has suspended Rice indefinitely.

The incident has focused the entire country’s attention on the prevalence of domestic violence.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong advocacy for plaintiffs and defendants in Protection From Abuse (PFA) and criminal domestic violence cases. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Fight Back Against Allegations of Abuse

86505321Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to exaggerate, fabricate or outright lie to receive a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. As a result, many innocent people are unfairly swept into the court system. Spivak Law Firm strongly defends such people and has an excellent record of success in getting bogus PFA orders dismissed.

But what if you did it? In other words, should a person who has perpetrated abuse under Pennsylvania law simply accept a three-year Final PFA? Or is it still worthwhile to retain an experienced PFA attorney and fight back against the charges?

At Spivak Law Firm, we recommend fighting back.

In cases where the evidence is stacked against our clients, we are still able to help them by protecting their child custody rights, safeguarding their property, limiting the duration of a PFA order, and advising them on moving forward with their lives. In many cases, we are successful in avoiding a Final PFA even where abuse occurred.

At Spivak Law Firm, we do not judge our clients. We advocate strongly for them. We understand that we all have done things for which we are not proud. We treat our clients with dignity and respect by making ourselves accessible and by striving to build the strongest possible defense in every case.

Served with a PFA? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Why Having a Will is Essential in Pennsylvania

83496541Your last will defines what you want to give, where you want it to go, and how you want your last wishes carried out. The key to a will is to keep it up-to-date about you and your life. A will that is clearly defined and current is the best piece of legal work that you have that can be used to honor your wishes.

With the help of a will, you will be able to clearly define your loved ones’ futures. If you forget to go back to your will and include your newest grandchild, or you forget to make changes to your child’s college education requirements, they may end up losing out. If something changes down the road, include it in your will. You should come back to your will each year to consult it and consider any necessary changes that need to be made.

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.

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.