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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

The 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

The 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?

A 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.