Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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Upper St. Clair Family Law

Finding the Right Family Law Attorney For You

95732591Family law attorneys handle divorce, child custody, and support issues. Choosing the right family law attorney is important given the emotional and financial hardships that frequently accompany these issues. Here are some things to consider when making your decision:

  • Does this lawyer seem confident, strong, and experienced?
  • What skills do I see in the lawyer? Is the lawyer smart, resourceful, comforting, strategic, a good listener, and so forth?
  • Is this person a skilled negotiator, trial lawyer, and communicator?
  • What kind of dispute resolution do I want to pursue, and does this lawyer have the appropriate experience and skills to handle the case in this fashion?
  • How will the parenting plan be developed and who will develop it?
  • If there are realistic issues involving personality disorders, substance abuse, or other such problems, does the lawyer have the experience and skill set to deal effectively with them?
  • Do I trust and respect this person? Can we have a good working partnership?
  • Can I be honest with this person? Do I feel comfortable sharing intimate details?
  • Is this person honest and candid with me?
  • Does the lawyer pay attention to me? Does he or she have time for me?
  • Can I afford this lawyer?

For a free consultation with an experienced Pittsburgh family law attorney, 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 4 of 7)

89793648 (2)In 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.

At the custody conciliation, the parties and their attorneys meet with a child custody officer in an attempt to negotiate and resolve their custody case. There is no fee for the conciliation. You should bring with you: your child’s school schedule, your current income information (pay stub and/or W-2), your child’s extracurricular activity schedule, and a proposed custody schedule.

If you and the other party are able to come to an agreement, the custody conciliator will write up an order of court and you will leave with an order of court that day. This will dispose of the custody action filed and you will go no further into the court system.

If you and the other party are unable to come to an agreement: you may be ordered to submit income information for psychological/home evaluations; you may be ordered to appear at a partial custody hearing; or you may be ordered to appear at a judicial conciliation.

To speak with an experienced Allegheny County family law 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.

Pittsburgh Dad Wins Sole Custody of Child

126998623What should you do if somebody kidnaps your child? Call the police, right? But what if the police won’t help? This was Reggie’s dilemma when he recently called Spivak Law Firm seeking help.

Reggie and Arlene (not their real names) had a son but were never married. They never bothered to get a custody order because they figured they did not need one.

Both parents were very involved in their child’s life. They lived close to one another in the same school district just outside Pittsburgh. The child had his own room at each of their residences. Reggie coached his son’s sports teams. “We never had any problems sharing our son,” says Reggie.

But then Arlene died suddenly from cancer. Arlene’s sister (the child’s aunt) one day took the child and refused to give him back. Reggie called the aunt repeatedly but she would not take his calls.

So Reggie went to the police. But they refused to get involved in a child custody matter. Then Reggie went to his local magistrate who also refused to help but advised him to get an attorney.

Reggie was emotionally distraught when he arrived at our offices carrying a copy of his son’s birth certificate. A family member had effectively kidnapped his child and it seemed nobody would help him.

Spivak Law Firm promptly filed an Emergency Motion for Special Relief at the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas – Family Division. Our petition explained the situation. We sought a Court Order giving Reggie sole custody of his child and the immediate return of the boy to his father with the help of police.

The next day, the judge granted our request and signed the Court Order.

Leaving the courthouse, Reggie looked at his attorney with tears in his eyes. “Thank you, thank you, thank you,” he whispered. Then he ran to claim his child.

At Spivak Law Firm, we provide strong, compassionate representation in child custody matters. To speak with an experienced child custody lawyer, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Paying Child Support in Pennsylvania

87486604In Pennsylvania, most child support is paid by income withholding, or wage garnishment, as ordered by the court and maintained in the state’s Child Support Enforcement System, which is the state’s child support computer.

Pennsylvania maintains monthly support orders, which charge the first of each month. If your employer gets a court order, the employer will take child support out of your pay and send it to the state’s Support Collection and Disbursement Unit (SCDU).

Support can also be taken from your unemployment compensation, workers’ compensation, Social Security, and retirement and pension benefits.

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

Protecting Kids in Divorce

Little girl wearing sundress holding flowersIn Pennsylvania, courts generally frown on parents who fail to protect their children from conflicts during divorce.

If you’re engaged in a child custody dispute, protect your children from conflicts between you and your partner. Don’t say anything against your partner, no matter how provoked you might be, because anything could become evidence.

Avoid the following behavior:

  • Asking your children questions about the other partner;
  • Discussing court with your children or within their hearing;
  • Asking your children to compare you and your partner;
  • Giving your children choices between their two parents;
  • Exposing your children to your negative emotions.

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

Pennsylvania Child Support Guidelines

Beautiful baby of three months old in his mothers hands.Pennsylvania and 36 other states apply the Income Shares Model for calculating child support. Under this model, children of separated, divorced or never-married parents are entitled to receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received if the parents lived together.

Several economic studies estimate the average amount of household expenses for children in intact households. These studies show that the proportion of household spending devoted to children is directly related to the level of household income and to the number of children.

Pennsylvania’s child support guidelines represent average expenses on children for food, housing, transportation, clothing and other miscellaneous items that are needed by children and provided by their parents. The guidelines, which are established by rule by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, are based upon the reasonable needs of the child.

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