Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

Spivak Law Firm is BBB Accredited

Dormont Family Law

Expanding Your Child Custody Schedule

 

Custody Pic1Young children should have frequent contact with both parents, which includes engaging in daily routines. When planning your custody schedule, you should consider the following:

  • The child’s temperament;
  • Any special needs of the child;
  • The amount of conflict between you and the other parent;
  • The child’s familiarity with the households;
  • The childcare provided by each parent.

If you had less involvement in your child’s daily routine, you may consider exercising custody on a gradual basis to acclimate your child to the change. But once you are more familiar with your child’s daily routine, you may begin exercising more overnights.

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

Child Custody Mediation

dandelion wishing blowing seedsChild custody mediation provides an opportunity for you and the other parent to discuss what is best for your child without attorneys present. It is a time reserved for working out an ideal schedule for both the parents and the child.

Here are four don’ts for mediating a custody dispute:

  • Don’t neglect the needs of your child;
  • Don’t assume one parenting plan works for all children;
  • Don’t go to mediation without a plan; and
  • Don’t denigrate the other parent.

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

 

4 Tips for PFA Defendants

PFA Pic1It is important to maintain your composure at your Final PFA hearing.

It will be difficult to remain calm while the opposing party makes allegations of abuse against you, but walking into a hearing with a bad attitude may affect the judge’s opinion of you and add to the plaintiff’s credibility – even if the allegations are false.

To avoid discrediting your version of events, follow these four tips at your PFA hearing:

  • Do not raise your voice in anger to the judge, your lawyer, or the other party;
  • Do not shake your head, roll your eyes, or laugh while the other party is speaking;
  • Do not interrupt the other party or the judge;
  • Do not make mean-spirited comments about the other party.

If you have been served with a PFA order, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody and Summer Vacation

dandelion wishing blowing seedsChildren eagerly await the end of the school year and the start of summer vacation. But summer vacation can be a stressful time for you and your ex, as this means accommodating one another’s vacation schedules. These five tips can help alleviate some of the tensions that arise when planning vacations:

  • Tell your ex your plans ahead of time;
  • Do not violate the terms of an existing custody order;
  • Give your ex the details of your trip (location, lodging, transportation, phone numbers, etc.);
  • Arrange for communication between the children and your ex;
  • Confirm the agreement in writing.

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

What to Expect At Your Child Support Hearing

Custody Pic5In Allegheny County, many people resolve child support issues without need for a hearing. Parties first disclose their income and expenses to a domestic-relations officer usually in a small office or cubicle. The officer will usually run calculations based on state support guidelines established by the Pennsylvania Legislature. The parties then have an opportunity to reach an agreement as to the amount of support, if any. The officer at this first level does not have authority to enter a recommendation.

If the parties do not reach agreement, they will attend a hearing on the same day. The hearing is a mini-trial in which each party is sworn under oath and permitted to testify, introduce evidence, and cross-examine one another. The hearing officer will hear testimony, accept evidence, and issue a recommendation within 30 days. If either party is dissatisfied with the recommendation, he or she may file an appeal known as exceptions to be reviewed by the judge assigned to the case.

For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

“The Terror Is Constant”

 

Conflict between man and woman

The following is the third of three excerpts from a recent column by Nancy Eshelman of the Patriot-News in Central Pennsylvania. Ms. Eshelman’s husband was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in a domestic violence related incident.

“For a domestic violence victim, the feeling of vulnerability increases after she makes the break. She knows he is angry and she waits for him to show it.

Walking to the mail box, taking out the trash, working in the yard become terrifying. The prospect of unloading groceries from her trunk causes her to sweat.

She drives everywhere with one eye in the rear view mirror and her car doors locked. She never exits the car without her house keys in her hand.

She burns too many lights. She looks out the windows. She wonders if she frantically dials 911 how long a response would take. She asks herself repeatedly which direction she would run if she saw him approaching.

The terror is constant. It takes a toll, physically and mentally.

And for too many women, the threat becomes all too real.”

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in PFA and criminal domestic-violence cases. For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

“It’s All About Power And Control”

 

Stay Away

The following is the first of three excerpts from a recent column by Nancy Eshelman of the Patriot-News in Central Pennsylvania. Ms. Eshelman’s husband was convicted of voluntary manslaughter in a domestic violence related incident.

“In early 1979, my estranged husband climbed a trellis, peered into my windows and saw me watching TV with a male co-worker. He tore out of the parking lot in his Jeep, sped the few blocks to his home and grabbed his gun. He raced back to my apartment – where our children were sleeping – smashed a window, bounded up a flight of stairs and pointed a gun in my face.

Then he wheeled around, strode a few steps and shot my co-worker dead.

My ex got his jollies by belittling others: me, my kids, his mother, anyone he saw as weaker.

When I could no longer tolerate what his harassment was doing to me and my children, I prepared to leave. I did it the right way: I told him why, told him when, told him where, gave him access to his kids.

He stalked me. They didn’t use that term in 1979, but that’s what it was. Wherever I went, he’d pop up. He’d call me a dozen times a night. When he brought the kids home, he thought that entitled him to enter the apartment where the boys and I lived. When I objected, he shoved me down a flight of stairs.

Almost 35 years later, I’m still delivering the message that possession isn’t romantic, despite what we may see in movies. It isn’t pretty, and it certainly isn’t love. It’s all about power and control.”

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in PFA and criminal domestic-violence cases. For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

High Conflict Child Custody Cases

Custody Pic9In Allegheny County, parents are strongly encouraged to determine their own child custody schedules. In most cases, with the help of family law attorneys and court-appointed mediators, parents are able to reach agreement on how to divide time with their children.

But high-conflict custody cases often cannot be resolved through negotiation. Parents with serious communication problems and high levels of anger and distrust may take their cases to trial.

At Spivak Law Firm, we are effective negotiators who help parents craft their own child custody orders. We are also trained trial lawyers experienced at aggressively litigating cases to reach our client’s goals.

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

What To Write On Your PFA Petition

702075.TIFApplying for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order can be a confusing and even scary process. The PFA Act says that you must prove to the court that you have been abused, as described in the categories below. Abuse can take many forms, including economic, emotional, and psychological, and you can write about those, too.

Note: The defendant will receive a copy of the petition. It will also be available as a public record at your county courthouse.

In your PFA petition, you can describe any of the following, if they happened to you:

  • “Acts that cause bodily injury or serious bodily injury and/or sexual offenses.” These include hitting, punching, slapping, pushing, strangling, chocking, forcing sex or attempting to do any of these things.
  • “Putting another person in reasonable fear of imminent serious bodily injury.” This refers to making threats to harm or kill you, your family, your children, or your pets.
  • “False imprisonment.” This includes restraining your movement or holding you down.
  • “Physical or sexual abuse of minor children.” This includes corporal punishment or spanking that leaves marks or requires medical attention.
  • “A course of conduct or repeatedly committing acts toward another that put the person in reasonable fear of bodily injury.” This includes sending threatening emails, following you, repeatedly calling you on the phone, and showing up at your residence, workplace, or school.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation for plaintiffs and defendants at PFA hearings in Pittsburgh and all nearby counties, including: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

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

Shared Custody Requires Good Communication

122499577In Allegheny County, it is presumed that parents will share legal custody of their children. Legal custody refers to major decisions involving the child, such as medical, educational, and religious.

Parents who share legal custody are encouraged to engage in unemotional communication when keeping one another informed about their children and making joint decisions about them.

This does not mean that you and the other parent will necessarily agree on issues. It does mean that making such decisions should not interfere with your ability to work together.

Old “hot-buttons” can change the focus of effective communication to destructive, unproductive arguments. Effective communication is not about winning or revenge, but rather a fundamental pathway to working cooperatively together.

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