Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Pgh PFA Lawyer

Fight Back Against Allegations of Abuse

86505321Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people to exaggerate, fabricate or outright lie to receive a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order. As a result, many innocent people are unfairly swept into the court system. Spivak Law Firm strongly defends such people and has an excellent record of success in getting bogus PFA orders dismissed.

But what if you did it? In other words, should a person who has perpetrated abuse under Pennsylvania law simply accept a three-year Final PFA? Or is it still worthwhile to retain an experienced PFA attorney and fight back against the charges?

At Spivak Law Firm, we recommend fighting back.

In cases where the evidence is stacked against our clients, we are still able to help them by protecting their child custody rights, safeguarding their property, limiting the duration of a PFA order, and advising them on moving forward with their lives. In many cases, we are successful in avoiding a Final PFA even where abuse occurred.

At Spivak Law Firm, we do not judge our clients. We advocate strongly for them. We understand that we all have done things for which we are not proud. We treat our clients with dignity and respect by making ourselves accessible and by striving to build the strongest possible defense in every case.

Served with a PFA? Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Getting A Continuance In A PFA Case

77005984In most cases, Judges will allow at least one continuance in a Protection From Abuse (PFA) matter.

PFA hearings are generally scheduled within 10 days. The defendant in a PFA case should have no problem getting a continuance if he or she has not been timely served or needs additional time to retain an attorney.

Parties may be surprised when a Court won’t grant a continuance of a PFA hearing. Continuances are generally only granted for good cause. The plaintiff may not be entitled to a continued hearing date if the defendant is present and wants to go forward.

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

PFAs, Domestic Violence, & Child Custody

86505316What should you do if you face a Protection From Abuse (PFA) restraining order while criminal domestic violence charges are also pending?

In most cases, you should continue the Temporary PFA until after the criminal case is resolved because any testimony opposing the civil PFA might be used against you in the criminal action.

If kids are involved, and the Temporary PFA restricts your right to see your kids, you may consider asking the Court for a hearing seeking supervised visitation until the criminal case is resolved. Otherwise, you run the risk of not seeing your kids for several months.

Spivak Law Firm has extensive experience handling PFAs, criminal domestic violence, and child custody matters. To speak with an attorney, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Law Increasing Protections For Minors

77005984Pennsylvania appears poised to expand its Protection From Abuse (PFA) law to include protections for minors who are victims of stalking and harassment.

Under current law, stalking and harassment victims who are minors cannot obtain a PFA unless their assailant is a current or former household member, family member, or former intimate partner. But what if the stalker does not fit into any of these categories?

A proposed amendment to the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act would close this loophole. If signed into law by Gov. Corbett, the new protections will go into effect July 2015.

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

PFA Law Adding Protections for Abuse Victims

702075.TIFPennsylvania will likely expand its Protection From Abuse (PFA) law to offer more protections for rape victims. A PFA, also known as a restraining order or protection order, is a powerful tool that restricts a perpetrator from having any contact with the victim.

Under the current PFA law, victims of abuse can get a PFA against (1) their spouse, (2) their live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, (3) a parent of their child, (4) their child, (5) their former sexual or intimate partner, (6) their parent, or (7) any family member related to them by blood or marriage.

But the PFA law does not currently protect survivors who were sexually assaulted by strangers or acquaintances. This loophole in the law will be closed if Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signs the Protection of Victims of Sexual Violence or Intimidation Act.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive representation for plaintiffs and defendants in PFA cases. To speak with an experienced Pittsburgh PFA lawyer, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

No Guns For Domestic Violence Offenders

99190846 copy2The United States Supreme Court recently ruled that federal law prohibits anyone convicted of a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence charge from possessing a gun. The ruling specifically states that the federal law applies even in cases where there is no proof of violent acts or physical injury.

In Pennsylvania, criminal domestic violence charges generally include but are not limited to simple assault, aggravated assault, harassment, stalking, child abuse, and reckless endangerment of another person.

The federal law prohibiting gun possession does not encompass Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders. A PFA is a civil matter and only becomes criminal if the person restricted by the PFA is accused of violating the order.

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

China Mulls PFA Law Similar to Pennsylvania

China appears close to passing a law empowering courts to issue restraining orders for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, and elder abuse.

Chinese culture has traditionally regarded family abuse as a private, not a criminal, matter, according to a recent article in The New York Times. Currently, someone who goes to the police seeking help against a violent family member will generally be advised to return home and “work it out,” the article states.

The Chinese bill is comparable to Pennsylvania’s Protection From Abuse (PFA) law, which nearly 40 years ago enabled courts to issue emergency no-contact orders at a time when filing criminal charges was the only legal recourse for victims of family abuse.

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

Dave Wins PFA Hearing, Seeks Custody of Kids

78287715After 17 years of marriage, Tara decided she wanted a divorce from her husband Dave (not their real names). He suggested marriage counseling, if only for the sake of their teenage children, but Tara refused. “I’m going to destroy you in court,” she snapped at him. One morning, after several days of getting the silent treatment from his wife, Dave lost his cool and slammed the palm of his hand against the kitchen stove. Tara went to the county courthouse and received a temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) order against her husband.

Later that day, a police officer arrived at their home and handed Dave the restraining order, which stated that he was evicted from his home, effective immediately, and that he could not have any contact whatsoever with his wife or kids until the PFA hearing. Emotionally devastated, Dave scrambled to find a friend or relative to take him in for a few weeks.

Seeking an experienced PFA defense lawyer, Dave retained Spivak Law Firm to represent him. Dave had never been apart from his family for so long. Feeling anxious and estranged, he attended his PFA hearing with a feeling of dread. Tara wanted a three-year PFA, the maximum duration allowed by law. We requested a hearing before the judge.

Tara testified that she and was afraid of Dave, but on cross-examination she admitted that Dave only hit the stove – not her or the children. Tara then testified that she never cheated on Dave, which damaged her credibility when Dave’s attorney produced love letters that she had recently written to another man. In the end, Tara confessed to simply wanting Dave out of the house so she could pursue her new love interest.

After a brief recess to consider all the evidence, the judge denied Tara’s request for a final PFA. Feeling relieved, Dave smiled for the first time in weeks. Dave and his attorney then left the courtroom to discuss their next legal actions: expunging the PFA from his record and filing for shared custody of the children.

Spivak Law Firm has extensive experience defending people against domestic-abuse accusations and asserting child custody rights. To speak with a Pittsburgh family law attorney, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Pittsburgh Dad Loses Child Custody Due to PFA

86505316Rick (not his real name) never spent a single night away from his 4-year-old daughter until his wife got a temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) order against him. The PFA evicted Rick from his home and restricted him from having any contact with his child until the PFA hearing some two weeks away.

Rick’s wife got the PFA on grounds that he threatened her during an argument and hit her once several years ago. Rick says these things never happened.

Rick’s wife did not include their child as a protected party on the PFA. Rick is not accused of ever harming or threatening to harm his little girl. Still, the court took Rick’s daughter away by denying him any custodial or visitation rights until the hearing.

Rick figures that his wife filed the PFA to gain leverage in their imminent divorce and child custody battle. Emotionally devastated, Rick continues to wait for his day in court.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong representation in all family law matters. For a free consultation, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA DO’s and DON’Ts

At Spivak Law Firm, we provide strong defense at PFA hearings for people accused of domestic violence. In most cases, we get the PFA dismissed.

Based in Pittsburgh, we routinely represent PFA defendants in Allegheny County, Westmoreland County, Beaver County, Butler County, and Washington County.

If you’ve been served with a PFA, protect your future by following this important list of PFA Do’s and Don’ts:

Do Hire an Experienced PFA Defense Lawyer: In many Pennsylvania counties, PFA plaintiffs are entitled to a free lawyer. PFA defendants should retain a lawyer to help level the playing field. PFA is a unique area of law that combines aspects of family law and criminal defense. As one of the few law firms in the greater Pittsburgh area that routinely handles both family and criminal cases, Spivak Law Firm is uniquely qualified to help. Our strong negotiation and courtroom skills help us achieve the best outcomes.

Don’t Blow Off the Hearing: Defendants who fail to appear at their PFA hearing risk getting a maximum three-year PFA. This can be devastating, as a PFA stays on the public docket and can haunt you like a criminal record. It comes up on a basic background check performed by employers, potentially costing you a job or promotion. At Spivak Law Firm, we understand that a PFA is a big deal. If you’ve been served with a PFA, we strongly encourage you to take it seriously by attending the PFA hearing.

Do Bring Evidence: If you’ve been served with a PFA, your hearing is likely just about a week away. That does not leave you or your attorney much time to prepare, so you need to start thinking about your defense immediately. Physical evidence commonly introduced at PFA hearings includes copies of medical records, phone records, emails, texts, and Facebook pages. At Spivak Law Firm, we help our clients prepare for their PFA hearing by collecting – by subpoena, if necessary – all records that help present the strongest possible defense.

Don’t Contact the Plaintiff: A PFA is a no-contact order. While it remains in effect, the defendant must abide by the PFA by having no contact whatsoever with the plaintiff. This includes not just physical contact but also contact by phone, text, email, fax, or regular mail. It also includes third-party contact. Thus, a PFA defendant cannot ask a friend or family member to contact the plaintiff about anything. For instance, having a friend ask the plaintiff to withdraw the PFA constitutes a violation of the court order because it is considered third-party contact. For more information on this issue, please visit our blog post “10 Tips for PFA Defendants to Avoid Arrest.”

Do Bring Witnesses: In domestic violence cases, the only eyewitnesses to the incident are often the parties themselves. Because of the “he-said, she-said” nature of domestic violence, cases are often determined based on credibility. A judge will hear testimony from both parties and make a decision largely based on who comes across as more believable. But when witnesses are present, it is important to bring them to the hearing. Because an eyewitness can be crucial in getting your PFA dropped, Spivak Law Firm works hard with clients to ensure that such witnesses appear at their PFA hearing.

Don’t Violate the PFA: Violating any provision of a PFA can result in a six-month jail sentence and a $1,000 fine. Although the main function of a PFA is to restrict contact between the parties, the court order may also contain other provisions that must be followed to avoid arrest. For instance, a PFA may restrict your ability to see your kids, possess weapons, or go to your home and other places frequented by the plaintiff. At Spivak Law Firm, we carefully review the PFA with our clients to ensure that they understand the restrictions imposed by the PFA and the severe consequences of violating them.

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