Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

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Dormont Family Law

Child Custody: Parenting Together

Under Pennsylvania law, the standard for determining child custody schedules is “the best interest of the child.”

Your judge may be hesitant to grant shared custody in high-conflict cases, so it is important to try and work together with the other parent. Demonstrate to the judge that the two of you communicate well enough to facilitate exchanges and ensure the welfare of your child.

Unless there has been a history of domestic abuse, it will also work against your custody case if the judge finds that you discourage your child from fostering a relationship with the other parent. If it is time for the custody exchange and your child does not want to leave, encourage them to go and that they will have a good time.

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

PFA Law Restricts Guns

Spivak Law Firm has represented many people who cherish the Constitutional right to own guns. Some are hunters. Some are police officers and other law-enforcement officials whose livelihoods depend on the ability to carry a firearm.

In Pennsylvania, the Protection From Abuse (PFA) law has been changed to restrict gun ownership against people accused of domestic abuse.

For the first time, a person subject to a Final PFA order will be required to give up his or her guns to police within 24 hours. The law applies even in cases of alleged stalking and harassment where a firearm was not involved.

The law is controversial because the burden of proof for obtaining a Final PFA order is far lower than for obtaining a criminal conviction. In fact, many people subject to Final PFA orders are never even charged with a crime.

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

PFA Hearings: Burden Of Proof

We’ve all heard the phrase “burden of proof.” What does it mean?

Burden of proof refers to how convincing the evidence must be to obtain a criminal conviction or Protection From Abuse (PFA) order.

In criminal court, the burden of proof is very high: beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the judge or jury must be 99 percent certain that the defendant committed the crime in order to convict.

In PFA court, the burden of proof is much lower: preponderance of the evidence. This means the judge must be just 51 percent certain that the alleged abuser acted in a way that warrants a Final PFA order.

It is much easier to get a Final Order than a criminal conviction because the burden of proof is so much lower.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense at all PFA and criminal domestic-violence hearings. We routinely handle PFAs and PFA violations, as well as criminal domestic-violence charges such as simple assault, aggravated assault, terroristic threats, harassment, stalking, recklessly endangering another person, endangering the welfare of children, child abuse, and aggravated assault.

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

Child Custody for Dads

Do courts always give Moms custody?

No. Times have changed; the children do not automatically go to Moms after separation. In many cases, judges award shared custody schedules or even award Dads primary physical custody.

Pennsylvania courts decide custody in the best interests of the children by weighing sixteen factors. Among the factors, your judge will consider the level of conflict between you and your ex, the distance between your residences, and your respective work schedules. But gender preference is not among the sixteen factors.

Under Pennsylvania law, Dads have as many rights as Moms to the custody of their children. In Allegheny County, judges commonly award shared custody schedules that provide each parent equal time with the kids.

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

PFA Law: What Is Abuse?

Under Pennsylvania Law, the term “abuse” is defined broadly when determining whether to grant a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. It does not merely include physical violence.

There are many forms of alleged “abuse” that could justify a PFA, including:

-Physical violence

-Threats of physical violence

-Sexual violence

-Threats of sexual violence

Harassment

-Stalking

-False imprisonment

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense at PFA hearings. We routinely take cases in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties, including: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Mercer 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.

PFAs and Firearms

If you’ve been served with a Temporary PFA or if a Final PFA was entered in your case, you may have just 24 hours to surrender your guns, weapons, ammunition, and firearms license to your local sheriff’s office.

Ignoring a court order to relinquish your guns could result in up to 10 years imprisonment under federal law.

In some cases, PFA defendants could instead give their guns to a friend or family member for safekeeping, so long as the third party signed an Affidavit of Accountability with the sheriff’s office and underwent a criminal background check.

But a new Pennsylvania law prohibits the third-party safekeeping option for gun owners accused of domestic abuse.

Spivak Law Firm advises PFA defendants on how to protect their Second Amendment right to possess firearms. We provide strong, aggressive representation at PFA hearings. For more information, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Factors for Creating a Child Custody Schedule

You and your ex are best positioned to create a child custody schedule, particularly because you know what will be in your child’s best interests. The following factors are important to consider when creating a custody schedule:

  • The age of the child;
  • Medical, educational, and social needs of the child;
  • Sibling relationships;
  • The child’s school schedule;
  • The child’s extracurricular activity schedule;
  • Your work schedule;
  • Your ex-spouse’s work schedule;
  • The distance for exchanges;
  • Your ability to communicate effectively with your ex-spouse.

Even though you may agree on a schedule with your ex, it is critical that you fully understand your rights before entering into a custody agreement. It’s possible that you are agreeing to a schedule that will substantially restrict your rights as a parent.

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

PFA Hearings: Credibility Is Key

If you’ve been served with a Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) order, there may be a formal hearing. A Court of Common Pleas judge will hear all the evidence and determine whether to grant a Final PFA order, which can remain in effect for up to three years.

Many cases are “he-said, she said.” In other words, there is no clear, definitive evidence to show whether the alleged abuse occurred. The judge must closely observe the accuser and the alleged perpetrator of abuse to determine who appears more credible.

At Spivak Law Firm, we carefully prepare our clients so they have the best opportunity for success at their PFA hearing. We have helped hundreds of plaintiffs and defendants in PFA matters.

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

Pennsylvania Expands Child Custody Laws

Pennsylvania has enacted a new law that expands the right of third parties to seek custody of a child.

Current law restricts custody actions to parents and grandparents. Under the new law, which will take effect in July 2018, any individual may seek custody of a child so long as it is shown by clear and convincing evidence that:

  • The individual assumed or is willing to assume responsibility for the child;
  • The individual has a sustained, substantial and sincere interest in the welfare of the child;
  • Neither parent has any form of care or control of the child.

The change in the law is expected to open the door to many new custody complaints by people who may not be physically related to the child but played a significant role in their upbringing and development.

Spivak Law Firm handles all area of family law with a special focus on child custody. To schedule a consultation with an experienced child-custody lawyer, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

3 Types of PFA Orders In Pennsylvania

Under Pennsylvania law, there are three kinds of Protection From Abuse (PFA) Orders that may be issued:

Emergency PFA: A magistrate may order an Emergency PFA at times when a Court of Common Pleas judge is not available, such as at night, on weekends, and during holidays. An Emergency PFA expires automatically at the close of the next business day. Therefore, if you get an Emergency PFA on Friday night, it will remain in effect until Monday at 5:00 p.m. so long as Monday is not a holiday.

Temporary PFA: A Court of Common Pleas judge may order a Temporary PFA based on an accuser’s sworn testimony of abuse. Pennsylvania law requires that a Final PFA hearing be scheduled within 10 days after the Temporary PFA is granted.

Final PFA: A Court of Common Pleas judge may order a Final PFA after a hearing. In some cases, defendants will consent to a Final PFA without need for a hearing. A Final PFA may last up to three years.

Spivak Law Firm has successfully represented hundreds of plaintiffs and defendants in PFA matters. For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.