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Yearly Archives: 2021

How To Lower a Child’s Risk for Addiction

Parents with substance-abuse problems often struggle to protect their kids from the genetic and environmental risks of addiction.

Such parents can best help their children by providing:

-Healthy models for sobriety, support, and coping

-Physical, financial, and emotional stability

-Trusted peer groups with parents who help look out for the child

“When a child believes he or she has the ability to resist peer pressure, he will be a lot more likely to do so,” writes Jessica Lahey, author of The Addiction Innoculation.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters with a special focus on issues of addiction, mental health, and domestic abuse. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Divorce: Who Gets the House?

If both spouses want to remain in the marital residence after the divorce, then who will ultimately get the house?

This issue will be resolved as part of the divorce process.

Negotiations will occur to possibly induce one spouse into buying out the other spouse’s equity share of the residence.

The formula for calculating equity is simple: subtract the mortgage balance from the fair market value of the residence, then deduct an additional seven percent to account for realtor fees. The remaining amount constitutes the home’s equity.

If, after negotiations, the parties still cannot reach agreement about who gets the house, the court will decide. One possibility is that the court will force a sale of the residence and divide the proceeds between the spouses.

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

Why Get An Expungement?

A criminal record can hurt you in many ways. For instance, it may keep you from:

-Landing a job or promotion at work;

-Gaining entrance to a college or certification program

-Qualifying for a loan or government assistance program

The chance of being harmed by a criminal record has increased greatly due to recent technological advancements allowing such information to be easily shared and sold to private companies.

If you have a criminal record, call Spivak Law Firm today to determine if you are eligible for an expungement. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody and Abuse Allegations

Allegations of sexual or physical abuse of a child may complicate a child custody case.

Courts take child abuse allegations very seriously, often prompting Child, Youth, and Family (CYF) Services investigations and forensic evaluations by medical professionals and law enforcement.

The alleged perpetrator, victim, and relevant third parties are all interviewed.

If the allegations are determined to be “unfounded,” evaluators and caseworkers make recommendations that often include family counseling.

It could take months for CYF to make final determinations, and a court will likely restrict your custody rights during that time.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, effective advocacy for people facing child abuse allegations.

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

Child Custody During COVID-19

All parents snap at their children, says Dr. Pooja Lakshmin, a clinical assistant professor of psychiatry at George Washington University School of Medicine.

“Raising your voice or losing your cool from time to time?” wrote Jessica Grose recently in The New York Times. “That’s inevitable because we are human.”

The article distinguishes between “letting your irritation erupt” and “abuse.”

Physical and emotional abuse – such as ridiculing a child, constant criticism or withholding affection or comfort – are never acceptable, she writes.

But it’s natural for parents to feel frustrated and anxious at times. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified a lot of stressors on parents, both financial and emotional.

But experts suggest that parents who lose their cool should later apologize to their children. Parents should discuss ways to calm down with their children and use the episode as a “learning opportunity.”

Parents may consider therapy if they are suddenly irritable all the time and lashing out at their kids frequently, suggests Dr. Alexandra Sacks, a reproductive psychiatrist cited in the article.

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

Three Types of PFA Orders

There are three types of PFA orders in Pennsylvania.

PFA stands for Protection From Abuse.

A PFA is a restraining order that prohibits the alleged abuser from having any contact with the alleged victim.

Under Pennsylvania law, abuse is defined broadly. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, threats of violence, harassment, and stalking.

A person seeking protection from a family member or current or former sexual partner may obtain one of the following three types of PFA orders.

First, an Emergency PFA will last through a weekend or holiday when courts are generally closed. It expires automatically.

Second, a Temporary PFA triggers a hearing date that is supposed to occur within ten days. In Allegheny County and other counties surrounding Pittsburgh, courts grant more than 90 percent of requests for a Temporary PFA.

Third, a Final PFA may be obtained by consent, failing to appear, or after a hearing before a judge. A Final PFA may remain in place for up to three years.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation at PFA hearings. For a free consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

PFA Hearings and Settlement Options

In Allegheny County, dozens of Final PFA hearings are scheduled every day. But judges actually hear only a handful of cases.

That’s because most PFA matters get resolved out of court through settlement by the parties’ attorneys.

In Allegheny County, there are many ways to settle a PFA matter without need for a court hearing, including:

-Withdraw the Temporary PFA

-Replace the Temporary PFA with an agreement to have no contact that also may address issues of child custody and housing

-Continue the Temporary PFA for a period of time set to expire

-Consent to a Final PFA without admitting to the allegations of abuse

-Consent to a Final PFA for a duration less than the three-year maximum

At Spivak Law Firm, we are aggressive trial lawyers who have also effectively negotiated hundreds of PFA cases to meet client goals. To learn more about possible settlement options for your PFA matter, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Despite Harms, Parents Continue to Spank Kids

Parents should not use physical punishment on their kids, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

A growing body of research demonstrates that physical punishment is actually harmful to children.

Spanking and other forms of severe discipline – such as verbally berating or humiliating a child – have been repeatedly linked to behavioral, emotional, psychological, and academic problems.

But spanking is still prevalent in American families and legal in all states.

About two-thirds of Americans agreed that “a good, hard spanking” is sometimes necessary to discipline a child, according to a recent national survey.

Spivak Law Firm handles family law and criminal defense with a special focus on child custody and Protection From Abuse (PFA). To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

What is an Emergency PFA?

A person seeking protection from an abuser may obtain an Emergency PFA even when courts are generally closed.

In Allegheny County, local magistrates and a night court judge are available to grant Emergency PFAs at any time, including: on weekends, during holidays, and late at night.

An Emergency PFA expires when courts resume their regular business hours. Therefore, an Emergency PFA granted on Saturday night will generally expire the following Monday.

A person who obtains an Emergency PFA will often return to Court during regular business hours to request a Temporary PFA, which will trigger a hearing date so a judge may determine whether a Final PFA is warranted.

A Final PFA can last up to three years.

The person accused of abuse does not receive any notice or opportunity to defend against the Emergency PFA or Temporary PFA.

Defendants are given the opportunity to challenge the abuse accusations at the Final PFA hearing before a judge.

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

Divorce: Fleeing an Abusive Spouse

There are many forms of spousal abuse: mental, emotional, physical, and sexual.

If you are the victim of spousal abuse, there are actions you can take to protect yourself.

You may file a criminal complaint with your local police department and seek to press charges if you are the victims of physical or sexual abuse. Domestic abuse charges commonly include: assault, harassment, stalking, reckless endangerment, and terroristic threats.

You may also consider filing for a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order to prohibit all contact and even have the abuser evicted from the marital residence. A PFA may be obtained on grounds of physical violence, sexual violence, harassment, or stalking.

If you are suffering mental or emotional abuse, you may request a hearing for exclusive possession of the marital residence, which would enable you to stay in your home during the divorce process and prohibit your abuser from the premises.

If you need immediate shelter from an abusive partner, there are many resources available to assist you.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation in all family law and criminal defense matters with a special focus on child custody and domestic abuse. Call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.