Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Allegheny County Custody Lawyer

Protecting Kids In Divorce

Divorce can be one of the most difficult challenges in a person’s life. You are learning to cope with a divided family, and you may harbor ill feelings toward your ex-spouse.

As tempting as it may be, it is important to never vent about your ex-spouse to your children. Consider reserving those feelings for friends or counselors.

Remind yourself that the issues between you and your ex-spouse are between the two of you.

Avoid putting your children in the middle of conflict and making them feel as though they have to choose sides.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all family law matters. Call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody: Corporal Punishment

In child custody litigation, parents are under a microscope. But the court isn’t the only one watching you closely. Your ex is paying close attention too. Your ex may be willing to tell the court anything that brings your integrity as a parent into question, especially the use of corporal punishment.

Although Pennsylvania permits the use of corporal punishment, the standard for deciding custody cases is “the best interests of the child,” which includes the child’s physical and emotional health. Accusations of excessive or extreme corporal punishment are given weight.

In cases where the scales weigh equally in favor of each parent, excessive corporal punishment may tip the scales out of your favor. If you are engaged in a child custody dispute, you should avoid using corporal punishment.

Sending your child back to the other parent with a mark caused by spanking could have disastrous results on your child custody case.

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

What’s In A Child Custody Order?

Beautiful baby of three months old in his mothers hands.A child custody order can be short – as little as half a page – or very long – running many dozens of pages. Child custody orders typically direct how parents:

–Share responsibility for making major decisions that affect the children

–Share time with the children during the school year

–Share time with the children during the summer months

–Share time with the children during holidays and birthdays

–Communicate about the children

–Communicate their vacation plans

–Transport the children for custody exchanges

–Notify one another if they plan to relocate

Parents need not follow the order so long as they both agree to changes. But in the event parents disagree, the order provides a framework that enables them to co-parent effectively while minimizing conflict.

At Spivak Law Firm, we provide strong, compassionate representation in all child custody matters. Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody in Allegheny County (Part 7 of 7)

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersIn 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. To learn about the mediation session, please click here. To learn about waiving the mediation session due to issues of domestic violence, please click here. To learn about the custody conciliation, please click here. To learn about psychological/home evaluations, please click here. To learn about partial custody hearings, please click here.

If you and the other party are unable to come to an agreement at the custody conciliation, you may be ordered to appear at a judicial conciliation.

A judicial conciliation is very similar to a custody conciliation, except that the parties attempt to work out a custody agreement with the assistance of the Judge assigned to their case. A judicial conciliation may occur after a custody conciliation or after psychological evaluations have been completed. If the parties are represented, attorneys may be present. Please bring with you: a schedule of the child’s activities and school schedule; your income information; and a proposed custody schedule.

If the parties are unable to work out an agreement at the time of the judicial conciliation, the Judge may schedule the matter for trial, schedule further proceedings, and/or schedule evaluations.

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

Child Custody in Allegheny County (Part 4 of 7)

89793648 (2)In 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. To learn about the mediation session, please click here. To learn about waiving the mediation session due to issues of domestic violence, please click here.

At the custody conciliation, the parties and their attorneys meet with a child custody officer in an attempt to negotiate and resolve their custody case. There is no fee for the conciliation. You should bring with you: your child’s school schedule, your current income information (pay stub and/or W-2), your child’s extracurricular activity schedule, and a proposed custody schedule.

If you and the other party are able to come to an agreement, the custody conciliator will write up an order of court and you will leave with an order of court that day. This will dispose of the custody action filed and you will go no further into the court system.

If you and the other party are unable to come to an agreement: you may be ordered to submit income information for psychological/home evaluations; you may be ordered to appear at a partial custody hearing; or you may be ordered to appear at a judicial conciliation.

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.

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.

Accused of Abuse?

147285315Spivak Law Firm routinely defends people accused of domestic violence and abuse. We defend people facing Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders and criminal charges such as simple assault, aggravated assault, harassment, stalking, terroristic threats, child abuse, and reckless endangerment. We also help people facing abuse charges assert child custody and visitation rights.

In family court, it is important to understand that credibility is everything. Someone accused of abuse instantly loses sympathy and credibility in the eyes of the court. Only a rapid, fact-based response can prevent a negative stereotype from attaching to you if you’re falsely accused of abuse. If this happens, it often helps to request a custody or psychological evaluation for both parents and the children, which some judges will order to get beneath the surface and thoroughly evaluate the truth, the dynamics of the parties, and their parenting abilities. Ideally you need to be prepared with a fact-based response to these common types of allegations from the start of the case.

If you’ve been accused of abuse, call Spivak Law Firm 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.