Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

Spivak Law Firm is BBB Accredited

Pittsburgh PFA Lawyer

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.

What If A Person Lies To Get A PFA?

At Spivak Law Firm, we provide strong, aggressive defense at Protection From Abuse (PFA) hearings in Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties, including: Allegheny, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Indiana, Mercer, Washington, and Westmoreland.

Our clients often ask us if the alleged victim will face any consequences for lying or exaggerating to the court in order to obtain the Temporary PFA order.

Unfortunately, in our experience, the answer is: no.

People falsely accused of abuse may file a complaint with the police, but the district attorney’s office is unlikely to prosecute for fear of having a chilling effect on other people seeking protection.

Even in extreme circumstances, district attorney’s offices rarely prosecute plaintiffs who have filed repeated PFA petitions in multiple counties with outrageous, unsubstantiated accusations that are later dismissed.

It is commonly known that some people abuse the PFA system in order to gain leverage in a divorce or child custody action.

At Spivak Law Firm, we handle all family law and criminal defense matters, including: PFA defense, criminal domestic violence defense, divorce, child custody, child support, and criminal record expungements.

To schedule a free consultation with an experienced PFA defense attorney, 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.

Divorce and Marital Assets

Q: I think that my spouse is hiding marital assets – what should I do?

A: If you suspect that your spouse is hiding or misrepresenting the value of marital assets, your divorce attorney can investigate by initiating a formal discovery process.

Divorcing spouses are required to exchange documentation proving the value of marital assets, the amount of marital debt, and the incomes of both spouses. The discovery process compels the spouse to release all relevant documentation regarding marital assets, debts, and income.

Although discovery can be time-consuming, it is sometimes necessary to uncover a spouse’s hidden assets.

Spivak Law Firm provides experienced counsel to help you navigate the divorce process in a way that protects your interests. To schedule a consultation, 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.

Alimony and Tax Benefits in Pennsylvania

Alimony represents the payments a higher-earning spouse makes to a lower-earning spouse after their divorce has been finalized.

Historically, the spouse making the payments could deduct alimony on his or her taxes. The spouse receiving the payments had to include the income for tax purposes. Thus, the paying spouse received a tax benefit.

Under the new law, which takes effect on January 1, 2019, alimony payments will no longer be deductible for the payor nor taxable for the receipient. Thus the spouse receiving the alimony payments will also get the tax benefit.

If you are considering a divorce, it may benefit you to wait for the new tax law to take effect or to finalize your divorce in advance.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, alimony, division of assets and debts, and Protection From Abuse (PFA). To schedule an appointment, call (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Underage Drinking and License Suspension

Underage drinking is a criminal offense in Pennsylvania punishable by up to three months in jail.

The legal age for buying, drinking, possessing or transporting alcohol in Pennsylvania is 21-years-old.

The mere attempt to purchase alcohol may result in a summary offense if you’re underage.

Additionally, the Department of Transportation may suspend the defendant’s driver’s license even if there was no car involved.

A first conviction will result in a 30-day suspension of driving privileges; a second conviction will result in a 1-year suspension; and any additional convictions will result in a 2-year suspension.

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

Divorce: Tips For Protecting Your Kids

Divorce can be emotionally painful and traumatizing, especially for children.

Here are tips for protecting your kids as you go through divorce:

  • When you break the news to your children, be prepared to comfort and reassure them.
  • Encourage your children to be honest with their thoughts and feelings.
  • Provide consistency and routine for your children to avoid major disruptions in their school and social life.
  • Try to avoid major changes and transitions so your children have time to adjust.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, Protection From Abuse (PFA), and Children Youth and Families (CYF). To speak with an experienced Pittsburgh family law attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.