Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

Spivak Law Firm is BBB Accredited

Even the Jobless Often Must Pay Child Support

imagesIn Pennsylvania, parents are legally obligated to support their children. Failing to financially support your child may result in your wages being garnished and even in your arrest.

But what if you don’t have a job? If you earn no money, you can’t be required to pay child support, right? Wrong!

Courts may impute an income equal to your earning capacity if you are found to have “willfully failed to obtain or maintain appropriate employment.”

Factors for determining a parent’s earning capacity include: age, education, training, health, work experience, earnings history, and child care responsibilities.

To learn more about earning capacity and other child support issues in Pennsylvania, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

10 Tips for PFA Defendants to Avoid Arrest

SO000183Violating a PFA can result in criminal charges with a maximum punishment of six months in jail. Here are 10 tips for helping PFA defendants avoid criminal penalties:

  1. Do not drive past the plaintiff’s residence.
  2. Avoid all places where you know the plaintiff goes.
  3. Leave a restaurant, grocery, or any other place if you realize the plaintiff is there.
  4. Hang up the phone immediately if the plaintiff calls you.
  5. Do not send emails, texts, letters, faxes, or gifts to the plaintiff.
  6. Do not respond to emails, texts, letters, faxes, or gifts from the plaintiff.
  7. Avoid contact with the plaintiff’s family, friends, and neighbors.
  8. Do not get into arguments or confrontations with the plaintiff’s family or friends – walk away!
  9. If the plaintiff comes to your house, do not let the plaintiff inside – don’t open the door!
  10. Retain an experienced PFA defense attorney.

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

Want to Pay Less Child Support?

126998623In Pennsylvania, child support and child custody are inextricably linked. The amount of child support you owe is directly tied to the amount of time you spend with your child.

A parent who pays child support will receive a 10 percent reduction in the amount of support owed at 40 percent parenting time, increasing incrementally to a 20 percent reduction at 50 percent parenting time, according to state law.

Parenting time is based on the number of overnights the child spends with the parent who pays child support.

Courts are reluctant to grant a parent more custodial time merely in order to reduce child support payments. But such practical considerations must be part of the conversation between you and your family law attorney.

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

Filing for Child Support in Pennsylvania

Does the person who files for child support automatically get it?

No.

In fact, Pennsylvania law explicitly states that child support orders must be entered “without regard to which party initiated the support action.”

In other words, a person who files for child support may end up owing it.

Child support calculations are based on (1) the parties’ incomes and (2) the custodial arrangements in place at the time of the hearing or trial. Generally, the parent with primary custody is entitled to child support.

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

Domestic Violence Can Happen to Anyone

Restraining orders and domestic violence can happen to anyone – even the very rich and famous.

Oscar-winning actress Halle Berry will appear in court this week in a domestic violence case that has received international attention.

This past Thanksgiving, Berry’s fiancé got into a brutal fight with Berry’s ex-boyfriend that left both men with serious injuries. Each man filed a restraining order against the other.

The incident occurred in Berry’s driveway while her 4-year-old daughter was inside the house.

In Pennsylvania, a restraining order is known as a PFA, or Protection From Abuse order, which restricts contact between the parties and can be used to gain leverage in child custody matters.

In Berry’s case, the restraining orders could affect her child custody case. Last month, a judge denied Berry’s request to move with her fiancé to France because her ex-boyfriend shares custody of the child.

In Pennsylvania, a person cannot relocate with a child unless every person with custody rights to the child consents or the court approves the relocation.

Berry, like many of our clients throughout Southwestern Pennsylvania, will spend much of this holiday season in court battling over child custody, restraining orders, and criminal charges arising out of the domestic violence incident from Thanksgiving.

Spivak Law Firm handles all domestic violence matters, including PFA restraining orders, criminal charges, and child custody matters. To schedule an appointment, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

On Talk Show, Spivak Law Firm Discusses PFA Law

Spivak Law Firm appeared this week on one of Toronto’s largest radio stations to discuss the stigma of domestic violence and how it affects people who are falsely accused of abuse.

Here’s a summary of our interview with Jim Richards on CFRB Newstalk 1010, which was prompted by news that the long-time puppeteer and voice of Elmo on Sesame Street was falsely accused of having sex with a minor:

“We get calls all day long from people who say they were falsely accused of abuse,” said Todd Spivak, attorney and owner of Spivak Law Firm, “whether it’s harassment, stalking, physical violence, or sexual abuse.

“In Pennsylvania, there are restraining orders known as PFAs, and they’re very easy to get. Judges in Allegheny County sign off on about 97 percent of all initial PFA petitions. And then the majority of these claims are either withdrawn or dismissed.

“In Pennsylvania, the PFA remains a public record. It can preclude you from certain job opportunities and promotions, hurt your credit rating, as well as destroy your relationships with your neighbors, your family, and your friends.”

Domestic violence is real. But people who are pulled into this system unfairly, unnecessarily, they have to go on and live with this stigma for the rest of their lives.”

At Spivak Law Firm, we strongly defend people against accusations of abuse. If you’ve been served with a PFA or face criminal domestic violence charges, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Elmo Puppeteer Falsely Accused of Abuse?

At Spivak Law Firm, our phone rings every day from people who say they’ve been falsely accused of abuse. We aggressively defend these people against bogus PFAs and false complaints of harassment, stalking, assault, and other forms of domestic violence.

Their stories don’t make headlines. But every once in a while a story like theirs will make the news, shining a light on how these people’s lives are ruined by lies.

This week, the gossip website TMZ published a claim that Kevin Clash, the voice and puppeteer of Elmo on “Sesame Street,” had sex with a minor. The very next day, his accuser recanted.

But the stigma remains. Elmo’s puppeteer endured a months-long investigation by his employer before the false allegations went viral online.

Like so many of our clients, Clash has endured the hell of being defamed publicly. In Pennsylvania, all PFAs are public records easily viewable for free by employers, family, friends, neighbors, and anyone else who wants to dig into their backgrounds.

And like so many of our clients, he must try to put these false accusations of abuse behind him and get on with his life.

If you’ve been served with a PFA or accused of abuse, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or (800) 545-9390.

Winning Social Security Disability

Applying for Social Security Disability? You better follow your doctor’s orders to have any chance of receiving SSD or SSI benefits. As stated in Spivak Law Firm’s 10 Tips for Winning: “Social Security routinely denies claims for benefits if people stop seeing their doctor, stop taking their prescribed medications, or continually fail to appear at scheduled doctor appointments.”

But what if your doctor’s recommendations do more harm than good?

Back problems represent the most common basis for approving Social Security Disability benefits. Doctors commonly recommend that patients with back problems receive spinal injections with a steroid medicine for relief. In 2011, some 5 million Americans received lumbar epidural steroid injections, according to the International Spine Intervention Society.

These are the same injections that have led to a fatal meningitis outbreak that has so far killed 7 Americans and left thousands potentially exposed.

Making matters worse, there is no evidence that steroid injections for back pain even works. A recent report in The New York Times states: “The Cochrane Collaboration, an international group of medical experts, reviewed the data last year and found there was ‘no strong evidence for or against’ the injections.”

The ongoing meningitis outbreak should serve as a wake-up call to Social Security. People seeking Social Security Disability should not be penalized for ignoring or rejecting a doctor’s recommendations – especially given that a doctor’s orders can prove lethal.

Spivak Law Firm proudly helps people nationwide win Social Security Disability benefits. We handle applications, appeals, hearings, and much more. To speak with an experienced Social Security Disability attorney, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

In The News: Spivak Law Firm

Spivak Law Firm has been in the news a lot lately.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette recently published our column on how Pennsylvania law handles child custody matters in rape cases, just weeks after announcing the opening of our firm at West Liberty and Potomac avenues in Dormont, three miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

The Pennsylvania Bar Association publication At Issue is about to run our latest column on family law matters. Our previous article on Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining orders in Allegheny County ran this past spring.

Patch.com, an online community news outlet, ran a profile of Spivak Law Firm that was featured in its Dormont-Brookline and Chartiers Valley editions. And just today, the Allegheny County Bar Association publication Lawyers Journal joined the others in announcing the opening of our firm.

Spivak Law Firm handles all matters involving Family Law, PFA Defense, Criminal Defense, DUI Defense, and Social Security Disability. To schedule an appointment, email us here or call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody for Rapists?

The  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has published our article on how Pennsylvania law handles child custody issues in rape cases.

Pennsylvania has received national attention for offering rape victims protection against rapists who later seek child custody privileges. But even Pennsylvania’s protections are limited because judges have discretion over all child custody matters.

“We’re not going to be stupid and give custody to a rapist,” Allegheny County Common Please Judge Kathleen Mulligan told us.

But it can happen, says Chicago-based attorney and women’s rights advocate Shauna Prewitt.

“For instance,” our article states, “a rape victim may be forced to interact with her rapist for months or even years if a custody hearing precedes a rape conviction. By the time the father is eventually convicted of rape, Ms. Prewitt says, a court may find that it is in the child’s best interests for the father to have custody rights because he has established a parental presence with the child.”

To read the entire article, please click here.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law and criminal defense matters. To make an appointment, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.