Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Pittsburgh Dad Wins Sole Custody of Child

126998623What should you do if somebody kidnaps your child? Call the police, right? But what if the police won’t help? This was Reggie’s dilemma when he recently called Spivak Law Firm seeking help.

Reggie and Arlene (not their real names) had a son but were never married. They never bothered to get a custody order because they figured they did not need one.

Both parents were very involved in their child’s life. They lived close to one another in the same school district just outside Pittsburgh. The child had his own room at each of their residences. Reggie coached his son’s sports teams. “We never had any problems sharing our son,” says Reggie.

But then Arlene died suddenly from cancer. Arlene’s sister (the child’s aunt) one day took the child and refused to give him back. Reggie called the aunt repeatedly but she would not take his calls.

So Reggie went to the police. But they refused to get involved in a child custody matter. Then Reggie went to his local magistrate who also refused to help but advised him to get an attorney.

Reggie was emotionally distraught when he arrived at our offices carrying a copy of his son’s birth certificate. A family member had effectively kidnapped his child and it seemed nobody would help him.

Spivak Law Firm promptly filed an Emergency Motion for Special Relief at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas – Family Division. Our petition explained the situation. We sought a Court Order giving Reggie sole custody of his child and the immediate return of the boy to his father with the help of police.

The next day, the judge granted our request and signed the Court Order.

Leaving the courthouse, Reggie looked at his attorney with tears in his eyes. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he whispered. Then he ran to claim his child.

At Spivak Law Firm, we provide strong, compassionate representation in child custody matters. To speak with an experienced child custody lawyer, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Erasing Your Criminal Record in Pennsylvania

95732591There are many reasons why a person may wish to expunge criminal records. For example, a background check will produce details of criminal cases that might affect future employment opportunities, the ability to be bonded or to obtain a gun permit.

Under Pennsylvania law, you may be eligible to have your criminal records erased if your case resulted in a non-conviction, such as: not-guilty verdict, dismissal, withdrawal or charges, or nolle prosequi. Expungements are also available to people who complete the Accelerated Rehabilitative Disposition (ARD) program or receive Probation Without Verdict pursuant to the Controlled Substances Act.

Convictions for misdemeanors or felonies cannot be expunged in Pennsylvania, but convictions for summary offenses can be expunged so long as the defendant has been free of arrest or prosecution for five years following the conviction of that offense.

Spivak Law Firm offers a low, one-time fee for expungements, which includes obtaining a certified copy of your criminal records from the state police, filing a motion for expungement with your county’s Department of Court Records, and monitoring your case to ensure that the records are removed from statewide databases.

It may take up to one year for the expungement process to be completed after a judge signs an Order of Expungement.

To speak with an attorney about expunging your criminal records, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

 

 

Understanding Alimony in Allegheny County

ConflictCan you still get alimony even if you had an affair during the marriage?

Yes. Under Pennsylvania law, courts consider 17 factors when determining whether to order alimony. Adultery and other forms of marital misconduct represent just one of those factors. Other factors include the duration of the marriage, the standard of living established during the marriage, and the relative needs of the parties. Courts will consider adultery only if it occurred prior to the date of final separation between the parties. A person cannot continue to receive alimony after moving in with a new partner, unless the parties agree otherwise.

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

Grandparent Custody Rights in Pennsylvania

144806853In Pennsylvania, a grandparent may seek custody rights over a grandchild under one of the following three scenarios:

  • Scenario #1: The grandparent has acted as a parent to the child and taken on the responsibilities of parenthood for a period of time. This is known as acting in loco parentis – or acting “in the place of a parent.”
  • Scenario #2: A grandparent who has not acted in loco parentis still may seek custody of the child if:
    • A parent of the child allowed the grandparent to form a relationship with the child; and
    • The grandparent is willing to take responsibility for the child; and
    • One of the following circumstances exists:
      • The child is deemed “dependent” under Pennsylvania’s child abuse and neglect law; or
      • The child is deemed substantially at risk due to parental abuse, neglect, drug or alcohol use, or incapacity; or
      • The child has lived with the grandparent for at least 12 consecutive months (not counting brief absences) and is removed from the home by the parents.
  • Scenario #3: A grandparent may seek partial physical custody or supervised physical custody in the following situations:
    • The parent of the child has died; or
    • The parents of the child have been separated for at least six months or have started divorce proceedings; or
    • The child has lived with the grandparent for at least 12 consecutive months (not counting brief absences) and is removed from the home by the parents.

To learn more about grandparent custody rights in Pennsylvania, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

5 Factors for Setting Bail in Allegheny County

SO000183A court uses several factors to determine the amount and type of bail it sets. Under Pennsylvania law, bail is security used to guarantee a person’s appearance in criminal court. A court may release you from jail on a Cash Bail, in which you must post the full amount of the face value of the bond, or a Percentage Cash Bail, in which you must deposit 10 percent of the face amount of the bond, or Release on Own Recognizance (R.O.R.) bond, in which you need not post any cash whatsoever.

In Allegheny County, the five main criteria used in the setting of bail are:

(1)  The nature of the offense charged;

(2)  Prior criminal history;

(3)  Length of residence or community ties in Allegheny County;

(4)  History of prior appearances in Court; and

(5)  Whether or not the defendant poses a threat to the safety of the community.

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

ARD Requirements in Allegheny County

200488043-001The Allegheny County ARD Probation Program was designed to supervise the first-time, non-violent offender who has been given a second chance at having a clean criminal record. Participants in the ARD Program are expected to serve a term of supervision lasting from six month to two years. Conditions of supervision depend on the charged offense and may require the offender to complete one or more of the following:

  • DUI classes
  • Substance abuse treatment
  • Community service
  • Domestic abuse classes
  • Anger management classes
  • Retail theft classes
  • Mental health treatment
  • Restitution
  • Court costs

To learn if you qualify for ARD in Allegheny County, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Pittsburgh Dad Loses Child Custody Due to PFA

86505316Rick (not his real name) never spent a single night away from his 4-year-old daughter until his wife got a temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) order against him. The PFA evicted Rick from his home and restricted him from having any contact with his child until the PFA hearing some two weeks away.

Rick’s wife got the PFA on grounds that he threatened her during an argument and hit her once several years ago. Rick says these things never happened.

Rick’s wife did not include their child as a protected party on the PFA. Rick is not accused of ever harming or threatening to harm his little girl. Still, the court took Rick’s daughter away by denying him any custodial or visitation rights until the hearing.

Rick figures that his wife filed the PFA to gain leverage in their imminent divorce and child custody battle. Emotionally devastated, Rick continues to wait for his day in court.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation in all family law matters. For a free consultation, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What Happens If You Don’t Pay Child Support?

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersChild support payments in Pennsylvania continue until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later. If you owe child support but do not pay it, there are several enforcement measures that may be taken against you, including:

  • Your wages may be withheld
  • Your federal and state income tax refunds may be taken
  • Your bank or credit union may be ordered to turn over your financial assets
  • Major credit bureaus may be alerted
  • The following licenses may be suspended, denied, or not renewed:
    • Driver’s license
    • Commercial driver’s license
    • Professional or occupational license
    • Fishing license
    • Hunting license
  • Your passport may be denied or not renewed
  • Your lottery winnings may be taken
  • Your name may be published in the newspaper
  • Your overdue support may become a lien against all real estate that you own in Pennsylvania
  • You may be fined or imprisoned for up to two years

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

Spivak Law Firm Frees Allegheny County Prisoner

71044902In a dramatic turn, Spivak Law Firm recently helped free an inmate from Allegheny County Jail so that he can be with his newborn son while awaiting his next court date.

Back in 2011, Frank (not his real name) got three years of probation for stealing and writing bad checks. Last November, he was arrested for failing to report to his probation officer. Eight months later, he was still waiting for a hearing when his Mother called us asking for help.

“Frank’s son is about to be born,” she told us. “Could you please try to get him out of jail?”

We filed a petition with Frank’s judge to lift his detainer. Additionally, we called the judge’s chambers and Frank’s probation officer to argue for his release. Several days later, we received a court order by fax with the heading: “Release of Prisoner.”

Frank is now home with his baby and happy to be out of jail while awaiting his probation violation hearing in the fall.

“My son is thrilled!” Frank’s mother wrote us. “Thank you for your hard work!”

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation for people facing criminal charges. To speak with a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Celebrities and Restraining Orders

Musician Jack White has become the latest in a long list of celebrities to receive a restraining order.

White is engaged in an ongoing child custody battle with his ex-wife who has accused him of sending her harassing emails and texts. Best known as the singer and guitarist for the Grammy Award-winning band The White Stripes, White is barred from having any contact with his children until his hearing date, which remains several weeks away.

In Pennsylvania, restraining orders are known as Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders. The PFA law permits alleged victims of domestic violence to obtain a court order secretly without giving any notice to the defendant, who may be evicted from the home and restricted from seeing his or her children until the PFA hearing usually scheduled within ten days.

In recent years, restraining orders have been granted against musicians Chris Brown, M.I.A., and Courtney Love, as well as actors Mel Gibson, Terrence Howard, and Randy Quaid. Numerous athletes have also received restraining orders, particularly NFL players such as Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens, Randy Moss of the New England Patriots, Shannon Sharpe of the Denver Broncos, Titus Young of the Detroit Lions, and Mike Logan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In California, actors and actres
ses commonly use restraining orders to protect themselves against stalkers. Such actors have included: Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest, Tyra Banks, Audrina Partridge, Alyson Hannigan, Jeff Goldblum, and Eva Mendes.

In Pennsylvania, by contrast, a person cannot receive a PFA order against a stranger. Rather, the PFA law states that any person can get a PFA against a spouse, a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, a parent, a child, the parent of his or her child, a former sexual or intimate partner, or any family member related by blood or marriage.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong defense at PFA hearings throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area, including Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County. To speak with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.