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Allegheny County Child Custody

What To Expect At Child Custody Seminar

Expunge Pic1In Allegheny County, any parent who files for child custody must participate in the Generations program, a two-part alternative dispute resolution program administered by the Child Custody Department. Step one is an education seminar. Step two is a mediation session.

Below is information on the Generations education seminar:

  • The education seminar is mandatory for all adults in the custody action and all children between the ages of 6 and 15.
  • The education seminar is approximately three hours in length. It is a parenting education program for adults and an interactive group for children.
  • Security is provided by the Allegheny County Sheriff’s Department.
  • The education seminar occurs on the second floor of the Family Law Center located in downtown Pittsburgh at 440 Ross Street.
  • If you fail to attend the education seminar, the custody action may be dismissed or you may be held in contempt of court for not following the scheduling order. Failure to appear at a contempt hearing may result in the issuance of a custody order and/or a bench warrant for your arrest.
  • To reschedule your education seminar date, you may contact the Child Custody Department at (412) 350-4311. You must complete the education seminar prior to the mediation session.
  • There is no childcare available at the education seminar.

To speak with an experienced child custody attorney, call Spivak Law Firm 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.

Child Custody in Allegheny County (Part 2 of 7)

ConflictIn Allegheny County, any person involved in a child custody dispute must enroll in Generations, an alternative dispute resolution program that includes an educational seminar and mediation session. To learn about the educational seminar, please click here.

The custody mediation session gives parents an opportunity to meet with a trained mediator to address issues related to meeting their child(ren)’s needs and to finalize a custody arrangement. Neither children nor attorneys participate in the mediation. Parents meet with a mediator for about two hours to discuss approaches to a successful parenting plan.

The goal of mediation is for parents to create their own custody plan, called a Memorandum of Understanding. Mediation is not therapy and does not include legal advice. Rather, the mediation process encourages adults to work together and to be responsible for their own parenting decisions.

Mediation sessions are confidential. The discussions during mediation cannot be recorded or copied. The mediator cannot be required to testify in court. Mediators are often attorneys or mental health professionals with advanced degrees, in addition to having basic and ongoing advanced training in mediation.

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

Who Can File for Child Custody in Pennsylvania?

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersTo seek custody rights over a minor child, a person must have “legal standing.” A child’s biological parents have legal standing to file a custody action. Who else can file for custody? A person who has acted as a parent to the child and taken on the responsibilities of parenthood for a period of time may have legal standing. Additionally, grandparents may have legal standing to seek custody of their minor grandchildren in limited circumstances as described here.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in child custody matters. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Understanding Child Custody in Pennsylvania

102719637When seeking custody of a child in Pennsylvania, it is important to understand the different types of custody available.

First, distinguish between “legal custody” and “physical custody.”

“Legal custody” refers to the right to make major decisions affecting the best interests of a minor child, including medical, religious, and educational decisions. Under Pennsylvania law, there is a presumption that “legal custody” is shared equally by both parents.

“Physical custody,” on the other hand, refers to the actual physical possession and control of a child. Custody disputes usually arise over issues of “physical custody,” as parents disagree about who gets the child and when.

There are several types of “physical custody.”

“Shared physical custody” refers to when parents divide time with the child equally – for example, on a week-on, week-off basis. It does not have to be 50/50; even a 60/40 time split based on overnights spent with the child is considered “shared physical custody.”

Another typical custody arrangement occurs where one parent has “primary physical custody” and the other parent has “partial physical custody.”

“Primary physical custody” refers to the right to have physical possession of a child for the majority of the time.

“Partial physical custody” means the right to take possession of a child away from the custodial person for a certain period of time.

For example, a parent who gets the child every other weekend and for a few hours during the week has “partial physical custody,” whereas the other parent has “primary physical custody.”

Finally, “visitation” means the right to visit a child, but does not include the right to remove the child from the custodial parent’s control. “Visitation” is frequently granted to grandparents or a parent who has been out of the child’s life for a substantial amount of time.

“Supervised visitation” refers to when a court orders that a supervisor be present during the visit. This usually occurs when there are issues of physical abuse or substance abuse that could endanger a child’s welfare. If no such issues exist, the arrangement is known as “unsupervised visitation.”

It is important to remember that child custody arrangements can always be modified so long as the parents mutually consent. To speak with an experienced child custody attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody Rights in Pennsylvania

It is widely believed that in child custody disputes courts favor giving primary custody of the child to the mother.

But the law rejects this notion.

Pennsylvania law states: “In any action regarding the custody of the child between the parents of the child, there shall be no presumption that custody should be awarded to a particular parent.”

Thus, under the law, both parents are presumed by the court to have equal custodial rights over their child or children.

In some limited situations, a person who is not the child’s parent – a grandparent, for instance – may also assert custodial rights over the child. But even in these cases, the parent’s custodial rights take precedence.

Pennsylvania law states: “In any action regarding the custody of the child between a parent of the child and a nonparent, there shall be a presumption that custody shall be awarded to the parent.”

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