South Hills Family Law
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.
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.
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:
-Threats of physical violence
-Threats of sexual violence
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
This question takes on even more importance when a child’s safety depends on knowing the truth, as in criminal cases involving child abuse.
Harsh punishments like spanking do not deter children from lying, according to recent scientific studies.
Positive messaging is the key to fostering honest behavior. Experts recommend emphasizing the benefits of honesty.
For instance, witnessing others receiving praise for honesty promotes honest behavior. Studies have also shown that children are less likely to lie after promising to tell the truth.
Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense with a special focus on child custody and domestic abuse. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.
Attorney Todd Spivak, owner of Spivak Law Firm, was featured in a recent news article regarding changes to the Protection From Abuse (PFA) law in Pennsylvania.
The Pennsylvania General Assembly recently passed a bill requiring people with Final PFA orders to surrender their firearms within 24 hours to law enforcement.
In the article, Attorney Spivak is described as a proponent for reforming the PFA law to curb false claims of abuse.
A PFA has serious consequences. It can take away:
- Your home: You may be permanently evicted from your residence.
- Your kids: You may lose custody of your children for an extended period of time.
- Your job: You may be terminated from your job, especially if you’re a police officer, teacher, daycare worker, or anyone subject to background checks.
- Your rights: You may lose your Constitutional right to possess firearms.
- Your freedom: You may be jailed and face criminal charges for allegedly violating any provision of an active PFA.
“If someone is willing to lie or exaggerate or fabricate on a PFA petition, what’s to stop them from lying about a violation of the order,” Attorney Spivak says in the article. “Defendants can have their lives turned upside down.”
Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense in all PFA and criminal domestic-violence matters. Based in Pittsburgh, we routinely represent clients in Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Fayette County, Indiana County, Mercer County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.
For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.