Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Greentree Family Law

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.

 

How A PFA Affects Your Divorce

Family Pic3When you initiate a divorce, it is important to keep your emotions in check. Divorce can be emotionally draining, but the playing field may quickly uneven when one party obtains a Temporary Protection from Abuse (PFA) Order.

Avoid any form of contact that could be construed as abusive, which includes shouting matches with your ex. Your ex could file a PFA against you after a verbal argument claiming that she fears you.

The PFA can evict you from your home, restrict your child custody rights, require you to pay support, and order you to continue contributing to marital home expenses.

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

Are PFA Hearings Fair?

BU010665If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, you can get a Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order against your abuser simply by telling your situation to a judge at an ex parte hearing. The alleged abuser receives no notice and may not attend the hearing.

Is this fair?

For true victims of domestic abuse, an ex parte hearing is often necessary to escape a violent relationship. But it is commonly known among family law professionals that many people abuse the PFA system just to gain leverage in child custody and divorce.

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

“I Still Shiver From The Fear”

 

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The following is the second 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.

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

If I think about it, and I try not to, I still shiver from the fear.

Night after night, unable to sleep, convinced that every passing car, every tree branch blowing in the wind is him.

For a victim of domestic violence, peace is elusive, sleep unknown.

I recall rushing home from work and taking a shower because somehow being naked and alone in the bathroom felt less vulnerable in daylight.

The victim longs to feel normal, but normal is no longer part of her existence.

If she’s a mother, she strives to create a semblance of normalcy for her kids. She helps with homework, but can’t concentrate. She attends their activities, but often misses the action.

Instead of watching her son running up and down the basketball court, she’s scanning the stands, terrified she will see that face, the one that haunts her.

As one woman described it, ‘You become like a guerilla warrior – constantly scanning your surroundings, looking over your shoulder, and jumping at every sound.’

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.

Why You Need A Child Custody Order

 

The father and the son

Q: My ex and I get along well. Do we need a child custody order?

A: Yes.

A child custody order is critical even for parents who communicate well and cooperate with one another. Without a court order, each parents risks enduring bad behavior by the other parent.

For instance, without a custody order, your ex may suddenly relocate to a new state or school district without seeking your consent. During holidays, especially, a custody order is critical if one parent unilaterally decides to withhold the child from the other parent.

A custody order is fully enforceable by a judge. Violating the order can result in make-up time with the children and sanctions such as attorney fees.

Even under the best-case scenarios where parents remain friendly, an enforceable child custody order is highly advisable. To speak with an experienced child custody attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

 

Why Having a Will is Essential in Pennsylvania

83496541Your last will defines what you want to give, where you want it to go, and how you want your last wishes carried out. The key to a will is to keep it up-to-date about you and your life. A will that is clearly defined and current is the best piece of legal work that you have that can be used to honor your wishes.

With the help of a will, you will be able to clearly define your loved ones’ futures. If you forget to go back to your will and include your newest grandchild, or you forget to make changes to your child’s college education requirements, they may end up losing out. If something changes down the road, include it in your will. You should come back to your will each year to consult it and consider any necessary changes that need to be made.

To speak with a Pittsburgh attorney about drafting your will, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

The Challenge of Co-Parenting After Divorce

102719637Co-parenting after divorce can be challenging for many families. Co-parenting means that both you and your former spouse must take responsibility for raising your children, even though you are no longer husband and wife. The goal is to keep children out of the middle of your conflict so they don’t feel the stress of the situation.

The children should feel as though they still have a family, just one that has been reorganized. Of course, the ideal way to achieve this is for the parents to get along, do what is in the children’s best interests, and put the children’s needs before their own. But this may be easier said than done.

While change is often difficult, it does not have to be destructive. It may make sense to get psychological support during such trying times.

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 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 6 of 7)

102719637In 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.

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 partial custody hearing. A party requests a partial custody hearing after an unsuccessful conciliation by filing a praecipe at the Child Custody Department.

Cases heard by the Partial Custody Hearing Officer involve matters dealing with partial custody/visitation only. In order to proceed to a partial custody hearing, you must prepare and file a pre-trial statement ten days in advance of the hearing date. The original must be filed with the Department of Court Records, a copy must be served on the other side and opposing counsel if represented, and a copy must be delivered to the Custody Department.

The pre-trial statement shall include the following: a narrative statement of the facts, which will be proven; the current custody schedule; the name of each person whom you intend to call at trial as witnesses, including experts, and a report from each of the listed expert witnesses; a list identifying all of the exhibits, which you plan to offer into evidence; a proposed partial custody schedule and proposed order.

At the time of the hearing, you may bring an attorney if you are represented. The parties may come to an agreement; if not, the Partial Custody Hearing Officer will issue a report, recommendation, and interim order to both parties. If neither party files exceptions within twenty days, the order will become final.

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.