Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

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Monroeville Custody Lawyer

5 Tips for Parents Who Share Custody

Custody Pic1Parents who share custody of their children must learn to communicate effectively without engaging in destructive, unproductive arguments. Below are five tips for promoting effective communication:

  • Non-threatening communication is most effective: People feel accused and respond defensively when they are attacked verbally with the work “You.” Avoid beginning your sentences with “You” and try to use “I” or “We” whenever possible. Using “I” and “We” reflects feelings or attitudes about something and does not evoke a defensive response.
  • Limit communications to child-related issues: Pay attention to your non-verbal communications. More than half of communication is conveyed through facial expressions and almost 40 percent through the tone of your voice.
  • Try to decide ahead of time that you will not engage or participate in destructive communication: This is extremely difficult and may even seem a bit strained at first. Remember: It is your choice to stay in control. Problems cannot be resolved unless communication works constructively in the family partnership.
  • Pay attention and avoid parallel communication: Have you ever started a sentence and realized that the other person was not listening, but rather looking as if he or she was preparing to respond? Suddenly, the person begins talking and you continue trying to finish your part of the conversation. Both of you continue to communicate in a parallel manner, no one is heard and nothing is resolved. Parallel lines never come together and nothing ever changes with parallel communication.
  • Learn to listen to the other party: How we communicate and learn to negotiate our differences is the number one issue in the success or failure of any relationship – business, personal, or otherwise. Good communication gives us a means to express our thoughts, feelings, needs, and concerns. As human beings, we all want to know that someone is listening to us while we are talking. Effective listening validates the words of the communicator. When you know that people are listening to you, most likely you will want to make a conscious effort to listen to them.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate representation in all family law matters, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and Protection From Abuse (PFA). To speak with an experienced family law attorney, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Tips for Discussing Your Child’s Weekend Away

102719637Whether or not you like your former spouse and whether or not you agree with his or her parenting style, there is not much you can do about what occurs at the other home. Children are generally entitled to spend time with both parents.

Your task is to send them off in the same way you would if you were sending them anywhere else where you wanted them to have a good time while they’re away from you, such as camp or school. Family counselors recommend the following transition tips on discussing your children’s weekend spent away at the other parent’s home:

  • Ask your children how their weekend was. To not ask about what goes on when they are apart from you would send the wrong message. Your child might think that you are not interested, or that you can’t stand to hear about them enjoying time with the other parent.
  • The motivation for asking about the weekend should be to serve the child’s needs, not to have your curiosity satisfied.
  • When children sense that they are being used as spies to report on what is going on in the other home, or when you react to the news with frowns, raised eyebrows, or sarcastic comments, the kids sense that you are not genuinely interested in sharing their lives with them as much as you are about getting some gossip about the other family.

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.

Child Custody in Allegheny County (Part 5 of 7)

111787230In 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.

If you and the other party are unable to come to an agreement at the custody conciliation, you may be ordered to submit income information for psychological/home evaluations.  Allegheny Forensic Associates conducts psychological evaluations.

Once an order is issued for psychological evaluations, the assigned evaluator will contact the parties and schedule the appropriate appointments. Evaluators may administer certain psychological tests and conduct interviews and observations. When the evaluation is completed, the evaluator will issue a report to the parties and the assigned Judge.

The moving party may praecipe for a judicial conciliation before the assigned Judge with the docket clerk on the third floor of the Family Court Building once they have received the report, if they wish to go forward.

In custody matters, if requested by either party or if ordered by a child custody officer, hearing officer or judge, parties may be referred for a home evaluation. The officer or judge will determine and allocate the total fee. Requests to reallocate fees will only be addressed in motions court by the assigned judge.

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

What If Your Ex Violates the Custody Order?

102719637You have a child custody order, but your ex continually violates it. Maybe your ex withholds the child during your custody time or fails to return the child on time. Or maybe your ex unilaterally makes big decisions about where the child goes to school without receiving your input or consent. What can you do?

When a child custody order is entered, family courts expect both parents to comply with its terms. You may seek to hold a non-compliant parent in contempt of court. If a parent is found to be in contempt for failing to follow the court order, the other parent may be awarded make-up time for the missed visits as well as other sanctions such as payment of attorney fees.

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