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Family Law

Grandparents Have Child-Custody Rights

Under Pennsylvania law, grandparents for years have held a special status that allows them to seek custody of a grandchild even against the parents’ wishes.

A new law that went into effect last summer intended to clarify the specific situations under which grandparents may pursue partial physical or supervised custody of a grandchild.

For instance, a grandparent may seek custody so long as the relationship with the child began either with the consent of a parent of the child or under a court order and the parents of the child have been separated for at least six months.

Alternatively, the new law invests custody rights in grandparents even the parents oppose it in cases when the parents are going through a divorce.

Spivak Law Firm handles all child custody and support matters, including: custody trials, custody conciliations, drafting custody orders, custody relocation, father’s rights, mother’s rights, and grandparents’ rights.

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

PFA And Divorce: Date Of Separation

The filing of a Protection From Abuse (PFA) petition against a married partner may be the first step toward divorce.

If so, the PFA will usually as a clear date of separation when the couple stopped living together.

This may prove important, as divorce laws in Pennsylvania permit a spouse to delay the divorce process by a year.

The filing of a PFA often starts the clock on the one-year waiting period.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and PFAs.

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

Collaborative Divorce: A New Trend

A new Pennsylvania law aims to legitimize collaborative divorce and create a uniform standard of practice.

Collaborative divorce is a relatively new, alternative way for couples to obtain a divorce without need for court intervention.

Collaborative divorce involves a problem-solving approach with interest-based negotiations rather than positional bargaining.

It involves several meetings with two clients, two collaborative lawyers, a facilitative coach who is a mental health professional, a neutral financial professional and a neutral child specialist if needed.

The meetings address all elements of the divorce, including child custody, child and spousal support, and division of the marital assets and debts.

Spivak Law Firm has received specialized training in collaborative divorce with membership in the Collaborative Law Association of Southwestern Pennsylvania. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody Schedules

When a court has ordered shared custody between parents, it can be particularly challenging to alter that joint schedule.

But there are a number of circumstances where a judge may consider changing a custody schedule, including, when you or your ex:

  • Attempt to alienate the child from the other parent;
  • Repeatedly denigrate the other parent to the child;
  • Are charged or convicted with a crime;
  • Are incarcerated;
  • Are investigated by Children Youth and Families (CYF);
  • Abuse drugs or alcohol, or;
  • Relocate outside of the county.

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

Effective Parenting

The most effective parents are authoritative, according to the recently published book “Love, Money and Parenting.”

Authoritative parents use reasoning to persuade kids to do things that are good for them.

Instead of strict obedience, they emphasize adaptability, problem-solving and independence.

The book distinguishes authoritative parents from authoritarian parents – defined, by contrast, as issuing directives, expecting obedience from their children, and using corporal punishment to instill fear and inflict punishment.

Kids raised by authoritative parents report better health, higher self-esteem, and are less likely to abuse drugs or alcohol, according to the authors.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law with a special focus on child custody and domestic abuse. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA: Economic Abuse

Economic abuse is a common tactic used by abusers to gain control and power in a relationship.

Economic abuse is present in 98 percent of abusive relationships, according to the National Network To End Domestic Violence.

Economic abuse includes methods of financial control such as withholding money, forbidding the victim from working, and controlling how all of the money is spent.

The effects of economic abuse can be devastating. In fact, 60 percent of domestic violence survivors reported losing their jobs as a direct consequence of the abuse.

Spivak Law Firm provides aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants in domestic-violence cases, including Protection From Abuse (PFA), Children Youth and Families (CYF), and criminal domestic violence.

To schedule a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Restricts All Contact

A Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order restricts you from having any contact with the person who filed against you.

No contact includes:

  • No face-to-face contact
  • No phone contact
  • No texting
  • No contact through social media
  • No passing messages through a third party

In fact, if you see the accuser in a public place, you are advised to immediately leave the area or risk getting arrested.

Spivak Law Firm routinely handles all matters involving PFAs, including: PFA hearings, PFA expungements, and PFA violations. To learn more, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody: Relocation and School

School placement for children during and after a divorce can be a very contentious topic between spouses.

If you are contemplating changing schools or districts for your child during a custody case, it is imperative that you either agree that the child will change schools or bring the issue in front of the court as early as possible.

Under Pennsylvania law, relocation is any change in residence of the child which significantly impairs the ability of the non-relocating parent to exercise custodial rights. It is up to a judge to determine whether a move qualifies as “significantly impairing.”

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and child custody, including: drafting custody orders and litigating custody trials and relocation hearings.

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

Common Divorce Myths

When it comes to divorce, many common beliefs are accepted as truths. However, the process of divorce is complex and every case is unique.

Here are some of the most common divorce myths and why they aren’t always true:

  1. Mom always gets custody: In Pennsylvania, the law does not favor either parent for custody. The judge is required to look at what is in the child’s best interest.
  2. Only women get alimony: Historically, women have been awarded spousal support or alimony more often than men. As more women enter the workplace and change gender roles, it is becoming more common for men to receive some form of alimony. Alimony is generally awarded to the lower earning spouse when there is a significant disparity in incomes.
  3. I don’t need a divorce lawyer: Even if you are on good enough terms with your spouse going into the divorce, you need to make sure you have someone in your corner who is going to ensure your rights are protected.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: divorce, child custody, child support, and Protection From Abuse (PFA). To speak with an experienced family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Why Judges Grant Temporary PFA Orders

In Pittsburgh and surrounding counties, judges grant the vast majority of requests for Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders.

Judges issue Temporary PFA orders without ever hearing from the alleged perpetrator of abuse. There’s usually no evidence of abuse except for the alleged victim’s sworn testimony.

Judges issue the orders with full knowledge that they may completely turn the alleged perpetrator’s life upside-down by evicting them from their homes, restricting them from their children, and placing them at great risk for arrest if they’re even accused of violating the order by having non-threatening contact.

So why do judges grant more than 90 percent of Temporary PFA petitions?

It’s likely because judges opt to err on the side of caution. Domestic abuse is real, and no judge wants to deny a request for help that leads to physical violence. Unfortunately, innocent people often go through hell while awaiting their PFA hearings.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.