We are delighted to announce that our physical office is re-opening to our existing and new clients. To provide safety to both our clients and staff, we are adapting the CDC guidelines for social distancing while we are in the yellow phase. Rest assured, that we have and will continue to regularly clean all areas of the office especially the high-traffic areas. All attorneys and staff will have their temperature taken daily and will be wearing masks when interacting with clients. Any attorneys and staff with a temperature of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher will work remotely. They will then be required to follow CDCrecommended steps, including not returning to work until the CDC criteria to discontinue home isolation are met.

As the health and safety of our clients and their families is our top priority, we are asking that our clients follow the procedures below during the yellow phase:

  1. Upon entering the building, we ask that all persons wash their hands or hand-sanitize. We will be providing access to soap, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes.
  2. We will also be taking temperatures with non-contact thermometers upon entering the office.
  3. Our office is set-up to comply with social distancing of six feet. In the conference and mediation rooms we are asking that each person sit a minimum of one chair apart from attorneys and/or staff at all times.
  4. Masks are available and will be provided open request.
  5. Teleconferences Zoom meetings, and FaceTime are available in lieu of inperson meetings if requested.
  6. We will continue to have the drop-box available for delivery of documents.

In the event that anyone is sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, we ask that you reschedule your appointment or utilize the electronic forums listed above.

As each county determines the procedures that will be followed, please ask your attorney of the specific procedures regarding the county in which your case in pending.

Please note that we will also continue to accommodate the needs of new clients, who are welcome, and as always we encourage and appreciate referrals. During this uncertain and unprecedented time, please stay safe and remember that Sweeney Law Office, LLC will remain by your side for all of your family’s legal needs. We ask that you have patience during this challenging time.

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Child support affected by changing paternity standards?

It has been customary that in child support disputes, a biological parent is the one that is typically pursued to make payments. However, sometimes this role is filled by the “psychological” parent, deemed to be an individual that the child has known in a parental role longer than their biological parent. These issues were intertwined in a Pennsylvania woman’s recent child support case.

The child in question was fathered by someone other than the woman’s husband through an extramarital affair. The husband was aware of the affair and that the child was not his own, and the couple’s other two children were also aware that the child was their half-sibling. But when the woman sought child support from the child’s biological father after she and her husband became estranged, the case was dismissed on the grounds that the mother and “psychological parent” (the since-estranged husband) had held him out to be the child’s father.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has now overturned the dismissal and returned the case to the trial judge to make a determination based upon the best interests of the child. In its majority opinion, the high court stated that child support is an obligation of the biological parent.

A final determination in this Pennsylvania case has yet to be made, but it underscores the point that these sorts of child support disputes raise important legal questions. In fact, about two in five children are born out of wedlock, increasing the potential for these types of child support claims. Regardless of whether a parent is seeking child support from their child’s biological or “psychological” parent, they will likely benefit from understanding which party they should be entitled to seek support from when both types of parent figures are involved. Indeed, all those contemplating or involved in child support proceedings would do well to familiarize themselves with the relevant law and procedure in our state as they fight for an equitable resolution of an often complex situation.

Source: The York Daily Record, “Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling alters standards for deciding paternity,” Mark Scolforo, Feb 22, 2012

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