Spivak Law Firm | Pittsburgh, PA

Based in Pittsburgh, PA

412-344-4900

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South Hills Family Law

Final PFA: A Life-Long Record of Abuse

Many people who are served with a Temporary Protection From Abuse (PFA) Order make the mistake of not taking it seriously.

They might not hire an attorney. This is mistake because the alleged victim will almost certainly have an experienced trial lawyer. Pittsburgh and all surrounding counties have local nonprofit organizations that provide free lawyers for people alleging abuse.

Some defendants do not even show up to court for the Final PFA hearing. This is a mistake because failing to appear for the hearing will usually result in a maximum three-year Final PFA against you.

All defendants should have an experienced PFA attorney evaluate their case even if they no longer want to have contact with the person alleging abuse.

A Final PFA creates a permanent record of abusive behavior.

If you’ve been served with a PFA, call Spivak Law Firm today. For a free consultation, call us at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Child Custody: Strategies to Prevent Meltdowns

Young children may exhibit symptoms of separation anxiety when their parents divorce. Symptoms may include whimpering to be picked up, shrieking if a parent leaves the room, or wailing at bedtime.

Child psychologists recommend the following strategies to prevent or de-escalate meltdowns:

  • Validate their feelings: Acknowledge that you understand why the situation makes them feel scared, and encourage them to practice being brave and trying an activity on their own.
  • Reward quiet acts of bravery: Avoid prolonging goodbyes and paying attention to tantrum. Be sure to reward them for playing alone or going to bed without fuss.
  • Practice routines: If you suspect that your child might struggle with an upcoming event, like starting remote learning, returning to preschool or an overnight visit with family, practicing the routine a few days before can help your child prepare.
  • Provide a transitional object: Give your children something small and personal that reminds them of home – that they can keep in their pocket or cubby and retrieve when they need to feel a connection to loved ones.
  • Relieve your own stress: Anxious parents can exacerbate their children’s anxiety, so take steps to relieve your own stress.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters, including: divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, alimony, separation of assets and debts, estate planning, and Protection From Abuse (PFA).

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

PFA Hearing: Do I Need A Lawyer?

Q: I’ve been served with a PFA. Do I need an attorney?

A: Yes.

In Pittsburgh and surrounding counties, a free attorney is provided to anyone alleging abuse in PFA Court.

Therefore, if you are a PFA defendant, you should level the playing field by hiring an attorney to represent you.

Otherwise, you will be negotiating with and potentially facing off in court against a seasoned PFA lawyer.

A Final PFA carries significant consequences.

You may be evicted from your home and restricted from your children. You may lose your job. You could even lose your liberty and go to jail if accused of violating the PFA.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, aggressive defense at Final PFA hearings. If necessary, we subpoena documents and witnesses. We are experienced trial lawyers.

We offer a free consultation for PFA matters and generally charge a flat fee so our clients know upfront exactly how much our representation will cost.

For more information, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

How Does a Retainer Work?

If you are hiring an attorney on retainer, there are two numbers you need to know.

Question #1: How much money will you need to pay upfront?

The lump-sum of money paid upfront represents the retainer itself. A retainer is an acknowledgement by the attorney and the client that the total cost for legal services is unknown. If the case resolves quickly with limited litigation or court appearances, there may be money leftover that is returned to the client. On the other hand, if the case is fully litigated and results in a trial, there may be a need to replenish the retainer when it runs out. The attorney deposits the retainer into an escrow account. At Spivak Law Firm, we routinely accept retainers for divorce and child custody matters. Most family law firms require a retainer in the range of $2,000 – $5,000 depending on the complexities of the case.

Question #2: What is your hourly rate?

An attorney bills against the retainer for legal services rendered. Periodically, clients will receive an invoice detailing all tasks performed on their case and how much time was spent performing each task. The invoice will also reflect how much money remains in the retainer so clients know if there is a need to add to the retainer for upcoming legal work. In Allegheny County, the hourly rate for family law attorneys varies widely from about $200 an hour all the way up to over $400 an hour. A client’s retainer will last longer with a lower hourly rate. At Spivak Law Firm, we aim to preserve our client’s resources by keeping our hourly rates low and frequently discounting our client’s invoices as a professional courtesy.

To learn more about hiring an attorney for your family law matters, call Spivak Law Firm at (412) 344-4900 or toll free at (800) 545-9390.

Tracking PFA Defendants

Under Pennsylvania law, a Protection From Abuse (PFA) order carries serious consequences.

It may evict you from your home, restrict you from your children, and even lead to your arrest.

New legislation may further strengthen the law by requiring PFA defendants to wear an electronic monitoring device.

Dozens of other states allow GPS monitoring for domestic-violence suspects.

In Pennsylvania, such devices are commonly used for criminal defendants.

PFAs are administered by family courts, though violating a PFA order may lead to criminal charges including Indirect Criminal Contempt, which carries a maximum six-month jail sentence.

The legislation regarding electronic monitoring comes on the heels of the 2018 law requiring a person under an active PFA order to turn over their firearms to local law enforcement within 24 hours.

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.

Domestic Violence and the “Boyfriend Loophole”

Existing federal law forbids people convicted of domestic violence against a current or former spouse to buy or own a firearm.

But what if the abuse was perpetrated by an intimate partner who is not your spouse?

Lawmakers may close the so-called “boyfriend loophole” to expand protections for abuse victims.

Efforts to renew the Violence Against Women Act include a provision to prohibit firearm ownership by those convicted of abusing, assaulting or stalking a dating partner, or to those under a restraining order.

Spivak Law Firm provides strong, compassionate, cost-effective representation. We handle all areas of family law and criminal defense with a special focus on domestic violence, 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.

Child Custody: Parenting During COVID-19

Parents of young children may take solace or even find helpful tips or simple wisdom in hearing from others working through the challenges of parenting during the pandemic.

In a recently published letter, Lydia Kiesling relates meltdowns shared with her 6-year-old daughter during the lockdown:

“For months, she and I have found ourselves locked in an awful duet of upset and recrimination. I yell; she yells; we both cry. As March turned into April turned into June – as “you’ll see your friends soon” became “at least there will be kindergarten in the fall” became hopefully it will be safe by first grade” – it grew clear that even the most cosseted children won’t get out of this situation unscathed.”

She praises a seminal book on parenting: How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish.

The book reminded her that life is flying by:

“I spent so much of the early pandemic days in a holding pattern that I failed to realize that the pandemic had become reality – that our crisis mode urgently needed to be retooled for a longer journey, emotionally as much as logistically. Regardless of how we feel about this period, it is happening, and the days continue to pass.”

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law, including: child custody, divorce, child support, spousal 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.

 

PFA Orders May Affect Divorce

Protection From Abuse (PFA) orders can significantly affect a divorce.

A PFA can evict a person from their own home for an extended period of time. If you are going through a divorce, a PFA can evict a spouse from the marital residence and provide the other spouse leverage for maintaining the residence as part of the divorce settlement.

A PFA can also restrict a parent from his or her children. This could have a detrimental effect on your custody rights as you proceed through divorce.

If your custody rights are restricted due to a PFA, you may also be required to pay child support as a result since the other parent is primarily raising the child.

Spivak Law Firm handles all family law matters, including: divorce, child custody, child support, PFA defense, PFA for victims, division of assets and debts, spousal support, and alimony.

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

Child Custody and Separation Anxiety

Separation anxiety is normal and happens as children begin to differentiate between things that are safe and familiar and things that are new and different.

Classic symptoms include clinginess when a parent or caregiver is present, and crying or short tantrums right after the person leaves the room or home.

For most kids, separation anxiety sets in between 8 and 12 months of age and fizzles out around age 3.

But for kids who have a condition called separation anxiety disorder, which affects between 3 and 5 percent of children, those meltdowns can persist into elementary school and even after. They may escalate over time and include physical symptoms such as headaches and stomach aches.

The current pandemic has added an extra layer of stress and disruption. Symptoms might increase, especially in households where one or more parents are essential workers who are now home less often.

Spivak Law Firm handles all areas of family law with a special focus on child custody, mental health, drug addiction, and domestic abuse.

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

Talking to Kids About Divorce

Parents going through a divorce should take steps to protect their children’s emotional health.

Professionals recommend that parents determine in advance what they will say to their kids.

Parents should make clear that the divorce has nothing to do with the children, and work together to ensure consistency in their daily routines.

Individual counseling or family counseling may be helpful to address any lingering concerns.

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

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