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Josef Arthur Hirschmann III

Josef Hirschmann’s Answers

320 total


  • My husband wants to adopt my daughters their dad has not seen them in almost 3 years I know he won't sign willingly...options?

    No contact what so ever for almost 3 years we've established custody and battled back n forth about it he has my address , my phone number and knows how to get ahold of them but doesn't

    Josef’s Answer

    Attorney Clark has provided you with very good information. I would only add that once notice has been given of the Petition to Involuntarily Terminate the biological father's parental rights, any efforts on the part of the biological father to reintegrate himself with the children with not be considered.

    I would also add that certain Orphans' Courts will not permit families to proceed with an adoption pro se (without an attorney). I would recommend contacting an attorney of your choosing, who regularly practices adoption law in your county, to determine whether you are required to have an attorney.

    Good luck.

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  • Forced return to state where filed, if move out

    Previous legal consult sort of warned me of having to return to PA if I moved out of state and filed before moving. Why cant the attorney use technology such as Skype, texting, emails, faxes, etc? IS there away around such a situation to limit any...

    Josef’s Answer

    Attorney Hilbush has given you excellent information. I am wondering, however, as part of the divorce proceedings, is there also custody which must be decided? If you plan to relocate with any minor children, that would be a strong reason to stay in Pennsylvania until at least the custody has been decided, as there are instances where relocating parents are required to return children to their "home state" pending any custody relocation decision.

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  • Involuntary relinquish of parental rights

    My 1 yr old father has not seen her in 6 months. Is this considered child abandonment in the state of Pa? And can I now legally have his rights relinqushed? There is no child custody order in effect as of now

    Josef’s Answer

    I agree with my colleague. Absent another person willing to step in and take over the biological father's parental rights, Courts are hesitant, if not completely unwilling, to permanently terminate a parent's rights. The basis for their position is that once the parental rights have been terminated, the child is no longer entitled to receive child support from the parent whose rights have been terminated. Also, the child would no longer be able to inherit from the parent whose rights have been terminated in the event of their passing.

    The Courts often take the position that it is better to have the parents retain their rights and make child support available, as opposed to terminating the rights without having another individual take over such rights.

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  • Can I get a step parent adoption done without hiring an attorney in the state of PA?

    My husband and I have been married for 7 years, and he has been a part of our son's life since he was 6 months old. Before we moved from the state where his biological father resides (VA), I obtained a signed, notarized copy of him terminating hi...

    Josef’s Answer

    There are counties in Western Pennsylvania that will not allow persons to proceed with an adoption without an attorney. Specifically, the judges in Orphans' Court in Allegheny County will not allow an adopting parent to proceed without an attorney without significant justification. The reason being that the Court wants to ensure that everything is handled properly according to the necessary statutes; and, attorneys are in the best position to ensure that all relevant information and documents are completed.

    If you are set on proceeding with an adoption without an attorney, you will want to call the Court Administrator of Washington County and ask whether judges will allow your husband to proceed with an adoption without an attorney.

    Regardless, I agree with my colleagues that you should, at minimum, schedule a consultation with an attorney who regularly handles adoptions to go over all relevant information that needs to be included in the Petitions that must be filed. Many attorneys who handle adoptions in Washington County offer free consultations. Contact one (or several) of your choosing.

    Good luck!

    Joe Hirschmann
    Washington County Adoption Lawyer

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  • If I do not have an attorney for a custody case that goes to trial, will the court appoint me a lawyer to represent me?

    I can no longer afford my attorney but I am going through custody court to get shared custody with my child. We have conciliation coming up and the other parent has threatened to take it to trial if the master does not decide in their favor. If I ...

    Josef’s Answer

    Unfortunately, no. The Court will not appoint an attorney to represent you. Family Court is not like criminal law where you have the right to apply to the public defender's office. There is no guaranteed right to representation for family law matters.

    Some counties do have low cost or pro bono services, but if you have already contacted them and were told that they are unable to assist you, then you either need to find a way to keep your attorney, retain a new attorney who would be willing to accept a payment plan, or represent yourself.

    Good luck.

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  • Is there a way to stop support until a custody agreement is in place?

    I just went to mediation and the girl doesn't want me to see the child and we were both informed that this proceeding can be drug out for 18+ months and I know she is going to drag this out the intire way so I can't see him and she can collect the...

    Josef’s Answer

    Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do. While child support and custody may appear to be intertwined, in reality, they are not. Your obligation to pay support is not tied to your ability to see your child.

    Your best bet to be able to see your child sooner is to hire an attorney who regularly handles custody cases in Allegheny County to see if there is a way to have an Interim Custody Order put into place. Many attorneys who practice in Allegheny County offer free consultations. Contact one (or several) of your choosing to schedule a consultation.

    Good luck.

    Joe Hirschmann
    Pittsburgh Custody Attorney

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  • Is there an emergency custody solution so my daughter can see her son? No court custody right now, court on March 3, 2014.

    My daughter is physically being kept from her son and the police won't get involved until there is a court order. The court date is a month away. What can she do? This has been an ongoing problem since last October. I am the grandmother and I ...

    Josef’s Answer

    Your daughter can prepare and present a Petition for Special Relief in Motions Court requesting that an Interim Order of Court be entered for a temporary schedule for physical and legal custody. While Judges will not always enter such an Order, that is the route that needs to be taken.

    If your daughter is not currently represented by an attorney, she should schedule a consultation with one immediately to go over any and all relevant factors to her case.

    Good luck!

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  • Can my 12 year old decline visitation with his father whom he has never met? He is just now asking to see him.

    My son will be 13 on June 1st & has never met his biological father. He pays child support but owes back pay of $9,000. He was going to sign his rights away so he didn't have to pay child support to my fiancée who has been a father to my son since...

    Josef’s Answer

    • Selected as best answer

    I agree with my colleague but wanted to add some additional information as I practice in Allegheny County and may be able to shed some more specific insight for you. At 12/13, so long as your child is intelligent, well-spoken and able to communicate his preferences clearly (as well as his reasoning for such preferences), it is more often the case that the Judges here will allow your son to make his wishes known.

    Reunification counseling when there has been such a significant absence from a child's life is very common in Allegheny County, so you should be prepared for that possibility that your son and his biological father may be ordered to participate in reunification counseling.

    Because your son is still a minor, he cannot refuse to see his biological father, if that is what the Court orders.

    You need to speak with an attorney who regularly handles family law matters in Allegheny County immediately. If the biological father has already filed for custody, that means you should already have your dates for the Generations Education Seminar and Mediation Session. Many attorneys who handle such matters in Allegheny County offer free consultations. Do not delay in meeting with one or several attorneys and hiring an attorney of your choosing.

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  • Why or do I need an attorney for an uncontested out of state adoption?

    I have three Children my wife and I are adopting from Arizona. Two of the three are my grandchildren and the third child is their younger sibling. We reside in Pittsburgh, PA and the adoption is uncontested by all involved parents. We also have a ...

    Josef’s Answer

    First it is important to know if the adoption is proceeding in Arizona or Pittsburgh. I would assume that as you said you are adopting from Arizona, that the case is proceeding in Arizona. If that is the case, I would suggest that you re-post this question in the city in which the adoption is proceeding in Arizona so that attorneys who are licensed to practice there are able to answer your questions.

    I practice in Allegheny County and handle adoptions. I can tell you that the judges in Orphans' Court only allow parties to proceed with an adoption without an attorney on the rarest of occasions. I previously have represented parties who attempted to proceed without an attorney who were told they must retain one in order to proceed. The reason behind the Court's position is two fold. First, the procedures by which an adoption must proceed are very specific; and, the Court does not want to grant an adoption that will later be subject to challenges. Second, when you proceed with the final hearing on the Petition for Adoption, testimony must be taken. For adoptions, the Orphans' Court in Allegheny County prefers a question/answer style testimony as opposed to a summary, which is what you would be required to give without an attorney. There are also standard questions which the Court wants to be asked, and attorneys are the persons who are aware of such questions and ensure they are asked.

    If your adoption is proceeding in Allegheny County, contact an attorney of your choosing at your earliest convenience. If the adoption is proceeding in Arizona, relist your question and ask what types of rules/requirements are in place in the county in which the adoption is proceedings.

    Good luck.

    Joe Hirschmann
    Allegheny County Adoption Attorney

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  • My son is 2 yrs old, his father pays support but hasnt seen or contacted him in 29 wks

    would i be able to have his rights terminated? he also has a ciminal history of abuse against his first born child. im not married or currently seeing anyone, but do live with my parents.

    Josef’s Answer

    The Courts rarely terminate parental rights without there being another person to step in and assume the rights, such as a step-parent. The reason being that once parental rights are terminated, the child's right to receive support from the father would also be terminated. The Courts take the position that it is more beneficial for the child to be able to receive support from an absent parent as opposed to a termination of such parent's rights. When the rights are terminated, the child further loses the right to inherit from the absentee parent.

    If there comes a point where you marry, and your spouse would want to adopt your child, if the facts remain the same and the biological father continues to do nothing but pay support, you may have a case for a termination of parental rights at that point.

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