Factors Considered in Child Custody Decisions



Undergoing a child custody battle can be stressful, but at DeRiso, DeRiso & Suher, we aim to make it as simple as possible.

Here are some factors that go into the decision process:

  1. Wishes of the parent(s)

As attorneys we are going to listen and open up two way communication to hear what you want.  Many times one parent wants sole custody and the other wants joint custody.  Sometimes this can be a sign that the parent wanting sole custody is being unreasonable.  If there are valid reasons (drug use, abuse, etc) the reward of sole custody would be likely.

2.  Wishes of the child

If the child is old enough to form their own opinion, their wishes are always considered. With the help of an attorney, you can get your child’s voice to be heard in the courts.  The judge will want to know the reasoning behind the child’s opinion. If the reason is understandable, a decision will be made based on their wishes.

3.  Child’s Community Adjustment

Judges take into consideration a child’s adjustment if they are undergoing an abrupt change.  Having no change in school or community is preferred.  The courts like to see children undergoing changes gradually and smoothly.  At certain ages, friends and peers are a huge part of a child’s life.  This is another aspect that is considered important in the eyes of the court.

4.  Family Relationships

Before making a decision judges are going to look at what kind of family life the child will have in either household. Grandparents, siblings, step-parents, etc are all important.  Parents that a working a difficult schedule or travel frequently might hinder their chances.

5.  Primary Caretaker

Because judges like to ease gradually into changes, the child’s primary caretaker typically stays as the primary caretaker.  The parent that is most involved with major decisions such as health, education and religion also have a slight edge over the parent that does not make these decisions for a child.  Make sure you take an active role in your child’s life!

6.  Mental/Physical Health Factors

Sole custody will likely be given to the healthy parent and for the child’s safety a judge may place limitations on the unhealthy parent.  These issues/concerns will be addressed in court.  If a parent’s health factors are temporary, then a judge’s decision may also be temporary until things are more normal.  An attorney will be to help you so that you are treated fairly in these kind of trials.

7.  Child Support

If one of the parents is not up to date with their child support obligation then the judge will definitely question the motive and it might play a part in the final decision.

Remember, every case is different!  These factors are to be used so you understand the decision process.  If you are undergoing a child custody battle, call DeRiso, DeRiso, Suher, Attorneys at Law today for a free consultation! We have decades of experience fighting for clients just like you.

One of our favorite reviews is from a client who underwent a child custody trial and was considered the underdog:

“Mr. DeRiso actually won my case of child custody and I am the father of my child. Not an easy task in PA! He uses the facts of the case and will tell you straight forward of your chances of winning your case. Very honest, loyal and business oriented. He will fight for what’s right!”


The Role of an Attorney: Good Communication

If you are looking for an attorney, do you know what to look for?  One of the most important qualities a good lawyer has to have is good communication!

DeRiso, DeRiso & Suher, Attorneys at Law have over 80 years of combined experience in the field of law.  You name it, we have probably seen it.  These years have taught us that communication is the most important aspect a good lawyer can bring to the table. Clients look for attorneys that are ALWAYS looking out for the client’s best interests.  In order to do so, the attorney must ask and understand what the client’s goals are and maintain good communication throughout the case.  Every client is different, but so is every case.  Our office is built on the mission of fully serving the needs of clients.  It is a philosophy and discipline grown from our founding attorney’s years of service as a commissioned officer in the armed forces, and has been the driving force behind decades of success.


We are proud to have been called “the best in Pittsburgh” by some of our previous clients and work hard every day to keep that reputation in check.

Have more questions?  Call us at (412) 452-9712 today to schedule a free initial consultation!  We look forward to meeting you.

Fourth of July Safety Tips

It’s always fun to spend time with friends and family this holiday weekend, but it’s also important to know the safety risks that we can run into. Every year fun family gatherings end with injury or death because of pyrotechnic devices. Most of these injuries involve children and teens. Unfortunately many of these end up with amputation of a limb or loss of vision due to handling. Follow these tips to stay safe!

Fireworks and American flag

Fireworks Tips

Enjoying a firework display done by the professionals is the best (and safest way) to enjoy the holiday, but if you insist on using fireworks here are somethings you should keep in mind.

Sparklers are also a popular activity, especially with children.  They can reach temperatures of 2,000 degrees (yikes!)

  • Follow the instructions on the packaging (ALWAYS!)
  • Keep a supply of water nearby just in case
  • Use eye protection if lighting fireworks
  • Light only one at a time
  • Never throw or even point a firework at people, animals, structures or flammable material
  • Keep away from children!
  • If burned, cool the area immediately with clean water and wrap in a clean, dry towel
  • If burned area has bubbled up or is very tender, then you will need antibiotic salve and possibly even an update of a tetanus shot and should go to the ER immediately after cooling the area


The Fourth of July weekend has one of the highest rates of drunk driving accidents! Be safe or have another way of transportation.  Remember, many communities will have an increased police presence and DUI checkpoints set up. Here are some tips to follow:

  • Always wear your seat belt
  • Observe the speed limit
  • Pay attention to the road (more people are outside and children and dogs are more likely to run into the street)
  • Use caution in work zones (remember fines are doubled!)
  • Clean your vehicle’s lights and windows to improve vision at night
  • Turn the headlights on in inclement weather or as it gets darker out


Everyone loves a grilled meal on the Fourth, but here’s what you should keep in mind to make sure it turns out smoothly…

  • Always supervise a grill when in use
  • Make sure pets and children stay away
  • Keep the grill out in the open away from your house, trees or anything else that could catch on fire
  • Stay safe by using long-handled utensils made for cooking
  • Make sure meat is cooked at 145 degrees for whole cuts/seafood and 160 for ground meats and 165 degrees for poultry.
  • Avoid cross-contamination between cooked and uncooked meats (use different plates and utensils)


While this weekend might be enjoyable for you and your family, it can be a traumatic time for your pets.  Here’s what you can do to keep them safe:

  • Never keep alcoholic drinks unattended on surfaces that your pet can reach
  • Don’t spray bug repellent or even sunscreen near dogs! Some contain chemicals that can make them sick.
  • Keep matches and lighter fluids away
  • Never put glow jewelry on pets
  • Keep citronella candles, insect coils and oil products away from pets
  • Like children, it’s important to keep fireworks away from your pets!
  • If you aren’t home, keep your pet in their create or in an escape proof room (many are terrified of the sound of fireworks and sparklers — an increased amount of dogs run away from home on the fourth of July weekend.)

We hope you and your family have a safe (and fun!) holiday weekend!

Divorce and Bank Accounts



Unfortunately there are some instances when spouses hide things from each other.  Do you know what you are entitled to? I had a good question that I answered on http://www.avvo.com that I thought I would share…

family secrets

Question: I recently found that my husband has a lock box of money that he has hidden from me.  I found the key and about $30,000 inside the box.  He has been seeking the company of other women and indulging in all kinds of other bad behavior.  I am afraid that he will leave our family and I will not have enough money to pay the mortgage and household bills.  I think he is planning on fleeing and there will be no paper trail for the courts to track any of his money.  Am I able to take the money I found?

Answer: There are actually a few ways to go about this. If you are still living together, I would say yes. However, I would deposit it to ensure it is accounted for and to demonstrate to the court that he makes cash in addition to his wage. This will be important at any support hearing. If you do not live together, it would depend on how long you have been separated before it would be considered a theft. But, if you guys still live together, there is nothing preventing you from taking it. I would also photograph it and the place he is keeping it.

Do you have a question about family law?  Don’t hesitate to call DeRiso, DeRiso & Suher, Attorneys at Law today! We’d be more than happy to help.

DUI Checkpoints



There are going to be multiple DUI checkpoints set up in the region this weekend.

Sobriety and drunk driving checkpoint representing the dangers of drivers that are intoxicated above the legal limit by alcohol or other drugs while they are behind the wheel of a vehicule.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • Police are allowed to stop you for a brief observation of the driver
  • These stops are not for physical search of the driver, vehicle or its occupants
  • By law, the existence of a roadblock must be made knowable in advance (news, newspapers, etc. leading up to checkpoint)
  • Checkpoints have to be set up so that a driver has notice of the upcoming stop with enough time and space to drive away from the checkpoint
  • You must follow rules of the road and it is not alright to break traffic laws in an attempt to avoid the roadblock.
  • If stopped, be polite and courteous to the officers.
  • Remember, if you just stopped drinking your body is still absorbing it and your blood alcohol level will continue to rise.
  • Field Sobriety Tests are optional! Think before you agree.
  • Pennsylvania has what is known as an “Implied Consent” law. This law means that all drivers on the roadways in PA agree to submit to a chemical test of their blood, breath or urine if an officer suspects driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • If you refuse to take a chemical test, your license is automatically suspended for a year on your first offense (18 months for second offense).

Remember, the best way to avoid this is to not drive under the influence.  Plan ahead and have a sober friend drive or call a taxi/uber instead.  

One person dies every 52 minutes because of drunk driving.  Sobriety checkpoints have the potential to stop 1 out of every 10 DUI related deaths.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call DeRiso, DeRiso & Suher, Attorneys at Law and we would be more than happy to help.

DUI’s and Gun Licenses

Question: Will I be able to obtain a license to carry a gun after I’ve had three DUI’s (2008, 2009, 2014)? 


Answer: Because of the amount of DUI’s, you would not be permitted to receive a permit to carry.  There is an appeal process, however, given the recency of these events, I highly doubt a judge would help you get a permit to carry.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law states that a person who has been convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol or a controlled substance on three or more separate occasions within a five-year period cannot possess, use, control, sell, transfer or manufacture a firearm.

In addition to the state law, a federal law also prohibits individuals with a certain number of convictions from purchasing or possessing firearms. This means that, in addition to state laws restricting the ownership of guns following a PA DUI conviction, federal laws further preclude your rights.

Joint Custody



Question: Can one parent take the child out of one school and put he or she in another if a child likes one better without court approval?

Boy holding his hands like scale choosing between his parents

(via Psychology Today) 

Answer: Assuming that it is from one public school to another and there is shared legal custody, you would still need to get court approval as it is a decision that falls within the parameters of the “shared legal custody” aspect of custody.  If the schools are near each other an the objecting parent is not inconvenienced, then it is very possible the courts would let it happen if that is what the child wants.  There is no information on the age of the child, however, the older they are, the more say so they have in court.

Community Involvement 5/28



The law office of DeRiso, DeRiso & Suher is very proud of our involvement in the community.  Whether it’s volunteer service or sponsorships we are excited to keep you in the loop of what we do outside the office.


The firm proudly sponsors a 10 and under softball team through Riverview Athletic Association.  Attorney Mike DeRiso also volunteers his time as an assistant coach.

The girls have been having an amazing season and it continued last weekend with a 12-0 shutout against Worthington.  Angelena DeRiso hit a home run and had 6 strikeouts pitching and Matty Deem hit 2 home runs.

Keep up the hard work girls!

Third Party Custody Cases



Question: What generally happens when a custody case is between a third party that is a family member? (cousin, sibling, etc.)

Answer: When a custody dispute is between a biological parent and a third party relative (aunt/uncle, cousin, sibling, grandparent etc.) the burden of proof is not evenly balanced.  The parents have a right to custody, which will be forfeited only if there are convincing reasons that a third party would serve the child’s best interest.  A third party would have to persuade using concerning evidence that proves that the parent is unfit for custody.   

Although difficult, it is not impossible for a third party to win a custody battle.  Other family members have been awarded custody in circumstances where biological parents were abusive, neglectful or had a substance abuse problem or where the third party family member had previously been a guardian of the child.  Foster parents have also been granted custody when they had proven they had provided excellent care to the child and are considered the primary care giver since the child’s birth.  Stepparents have also been granted custody if they have an established connection with the child (only mother/father the child has known or where child has become part of a family with stepparent’s biological children.)

Have more questions? One of our experienced lawyers at DeRiso, DeRiso & Suher would love to help you out. Call us at 412-452-9712!

Mugshots and Expunged Records


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Actress Lindsay Lohan is shown in various booking photos provided by law enforcement agencies from over the years for her brushes with the law. (Top L to R) July 24, 2007, November. 15, 2007, July 20, 2010. (Bottom L to R) September 24, 2010, October 19, 2011 and March 19, 2013.  Handout file photos/via Reuters)

(via Reuters)

Question: If an arrest was expunged off a record, can one still find the mugshot that was taken?

Answer: Law enforcement is supposed to destroy all records of the arrest pursuant to the expungement order.  If you went through a correct legal expungement, your picture should not show in any government criminal history search. However, in this age of internet and social media,  there is always a possibility it could still be out there.