Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

Spivak Law Firm is BBB Accredited

Brookline Family Law

A Brief History of Child Custody

Beautiful baby of three months old in his mothers hands.In child custody cases today, both parents increasingly enjoy significant amounts of parenting time. Recent studies show that child custody norms are changing significantly in the 21st century, with the proportion of parents sharing custody rising dramatically.

Historically, shared custody was never the norm.

In colonial times, American Courts followed the English common law rule that upon divorce the father retained custody of the children. Fathers had the right to the physical custody, labor and earnings of their children in exchange for supporting, educating, and training them to earn their livelihoods. At that time, mothers did not have legally enforceable parental rights.

This bias toward men flipped in the early 20th century with two cultural transformations: the industrial revolution’s remaking men into marketplace wage earners and the emergence of women as domestic caregivers. Under the “tender years” doctrine, custody of young children was almost exclusively awarded to mothers upon divorce.

Mounting divorce rates in the 1960s and ensuing decades provoked a lively debate about parental roles and custody issues. The movement for gender equality, along with the rise of fathers’ rights groups, called attention to the importance of both parents in the care of children.

In most states today, including Pennsylvania, the standard for deciding custody cases is based on the best interests of the child. This standard opens up the possibility of excessive judicial discretion as well as a threat of inconsistent rulings, resulting in hotly contested custody battles.

But it has also led to the rise of shared custody orders, as judges increasingly follow the recommendations of family psychologists who espouse the benefits to children who have equal time with both parents.

To schedule a free consultation with an experienced child custody attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Tips for Discussing Your Child’s Weekend Away

102719637Whether or not you like your former spouse and whether or not you agree with his or her parenting style, there is not much you can do about what occurs at the other home. Children are generally entitled to spend time with both parents.

Your task is to send them off in the same way you would if you were sending them anywhere else where you wanted them to have a good time while they’re away from you, such as camp or school. Family counselors recommend the following transition tips on discussing your children’s weekend spent away at the other parent’s home:

  • Ask your children how their weekend was. To not ask about what goes on when they are apart from you would send the wrong message. Your child might think that you are not interested, or that you can’t stand to hear about them enjoying time with the other parent.
  • The motivation for asking about the weekend should be to serve the child’s needs, not to have your curiosity satisfied.
  • When children sense that they are being used as spies to report on what is going on in the other home, or when you react to the news with frowns, raised eyebrows, or sarcastic comments, the kids sense that you are not genuinely interested in sharing their lives with them as much as you are about getting some gossip about the other family.

To speak with an experienced Pittsburgh child custody lawyer, 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.

Celebrities and Restraining Orders

Musician Jack White has become the latest in a long list of celebrities to receive a restraining order.

White is engaged in an ongoing child custody battle with his ex-wife who has accused him of sending her harassing emails and texts. Best known as the singer and guitarist for the Grammy Award-winning band The White Stripes, White is barred from having any contact with his children until his hearing date, which remains several weeks away.

In Pennsylvania, restraining orders are known as Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders. The PFA law permits alleged victims of domestic violence to obtain a court order secretly without giving any notice to the defendant, who may be evicted from the home and restricted from seeing his or her children until the PFA hearing usually scheduled within ten days.

In recent years, restraining orders have been granted against musicians Chris Brown, M.I.A., and Courtney Love, as well as actors Mel Gibson, Terrence Howard, and Randy Quaid. Numerous athletes have also received restraining orders, particularly NFL players such as Terrell Suggs of the Baltimore Ravens, Randy Moss of the New England Patriots, Shannon Sharpe of the Denver Broncos, Titus Young of the Detroit Lions, and Mike Logan of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

In California, actors and actres
ses commonly use restraining orders to protect themselves against stalkers. Such actors have included: Halle Berry, Sandra Bullock, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest, Tyra Banks, Audrina Partridge, Alyson Hannigan, Jeff Goldblum, and Eva Mendes.

In Pennsylvania, by contrast, a person cannot receive a PFA order against a stranger. Rather, the PFA law states that any person can get a PFA against a spouse, a live-in boyfriend or girlfriend, a parent, a child, the parent of his or her child, a former sexual or intimate partner, or any family member related by blood or marriage.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong defense at PFA hearings throughout the Greater Pittsburgh Area, including Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Westmoreland County, and Washington County. To speak with an experienced PFA attorney, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.