Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA


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Divorce and Bankruptcy

My spouse and I both want a divorce. We also need to file for bankruptcy due to our significant debts. What should we do first: file for divorce or file for bankruptcy?

The answer depends on the circumstances of your case, according to a recent article in Lawyers Journal written by Pittsburgh attorney Beth Slaby.

“If the spouses are on amicable terms, it may be best to file bankruptcy first,” she writes. “This allows both to share in the cost of attorneys’ fees and filing fees and could possibly protect them from paying joint debt.”

On the other hand, she writes: “The benefit of filing for divorce first may be that a married couple’s joint income is too high to qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy case, but a person might be able to qualify individually after the divorce is final.”

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).

Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Teen Mental Health Issues

Statistics regarding teen mental health are, well, depressing.

More than 30% of high schoolers report persistent sadness.

About 20% say they have seriously considered suicide.

Teenagers may be happy to learn that some social scientists recommend combating these problems by advocating for less homework and later start-times at school.

Teenagers are not getting enough sleep, according to a recent Washington Post article:

“No one questions the benefits of sleep for babies and young children. But teenagers’ brains and bodies are changing and growing just as much as they did in their earliest years. The restructuring of the adolescent brain is pivotal to healthy development – and to a large extent, it occurs during sleep.”

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law and criminal defense with a special focus on child custody and domestic abuse. Call us today at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Domestic Abuse: Behavioral Effects On Kids

Children who witness domestic violence may have the following behavioral effects:

  • Poor impulse control
  • Stress disorders and psychosomatic complaints
  • Increased social isolation or withdrawal
  • Increased deceptiveness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Dependence
  • Passiveness
  • Bed-wetting
  • Nightmares
  • Lack of creativity and healthy exploration
  • Feelings of powerlessness
  • Low self-esteem
  • Feelings of worthlessness
  • Confusion and insecurity
  • Sadness and depression
  • Poor definition of self
  • Defines self in parenting role
  • Ambivalence
  • Constant fear
  • Self-blame

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: child custody, child support, divorce, Protection From Abuse (PFA) and Children Youth and Families (CYF).

We provide strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation. To schedule a consultation, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Grandparent Custody: Seeking Partial Custody

A grandparent or great-grandparent may bring an action for partial custody of a child if the parent of the child is deceased.

In such situations, the grandparent or great-grandparent must show that the relationship with the child began with the consent of a parent or under court order.

Additionally, the parents of the child must have filed a custody action and did not agree that the grandparent or great-grandparent should have custody.

Finally, the child for a least 12 consecutive months must have resided with the grandparent or great-grandparent, and was removed from the home by the parents.

Spivak Law Firm handles child custody matters in Pittsburgh and surrounding counties, including: Allegheny County, Beaver County, Butler County, Washington County, and Westmoreland County.

Call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

How Much Will My Divorce Cost?

A divorce can occur quickly over a period of just a few months, or it can be dragged out over many years.

The cost of a divorce depends on the complexities of the issues and the willingness of the parties to reach an agreement.

Divorce cases may include several issues, including:

-Division of assets and debts

-Transfer of property ownership by deeds or titles

-Calculating spousal support and child support

-Determining a child custody schedule

-Obtaining a divorce decree

If there is agreement on all of the issues, then an attorney will simply draft the necessary documents and process them with the Court.

If parties cannot reach agreement, then there may be need for settlement discussions, negotiations, and possible litigation.

Divorce cases tend to cost more when they are more fully litigated in Court.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters, including: divorce, equitable distribution, spousal support, alimony, child support, child custody and Protection From Abuse (PFA).

To schedule a consultation with an experienced divorce attorney, call Spivak Law Firm 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.

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.