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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Illegal immigrants face loss of child custody when detained

The Applied Research Center reports that as of 2011, nearly 5,100 children in 22 states across the U.S. were in foster care as a result of their parents being either detained or deported on illegal immigration charges. In many of these cases, the parents had their parental rights stripped and their children were put up for legal adoption. This can understandably be a difficult and frustrating process for parents in Pennsylvania and across the country. Luckily, some of these parents are able to obtain temporary visas to remain in the country long enough to fight for child custody of their biological children, as in the recent case of one immigrant mother.

The mother illegally entered the U.S. from Guatemala, though her son was born in America some time after. Upon discovery of her illegal status, she was jailed and her son was placed in foster care with a family that later adopted him and raised him as if he were their own son. Several years later when the mother was released, she found herself unable to reclaim her child as her custodial and parental rights to her own child had been stripped.

Though she was jailed for being an illegal immigrant, the child custody proceedings were said to be based on her purported abandonment of her child rather than the fact she was being detained on immigration charges. However, it is argued on the mother’s side that she never intended to abandon her child, and that she made several attempts to contact him but was physically unable to maintain a presence in her child’s life.

Parents in Pennsylvania and across the country in similar circumstances will benefit by becoming aware of the rules and regulations currently in place regarding what they must do to avoid which may be interpreted as abandonment. This is especially so when such a parent may not have a clear understanding of the language and legal processes involved. It is understandable that every reasonable effort should be made to press for one’s parental and child custody rights by demanding the opportunity to keep a family unit together. When immigration and child custody issues collide, a full and fair hearing before the appropriate family court should necessarily focus on protecting the best interests of the children by maintaining loving relationships already established and nurtured. The issue can be that much more complicated if a divorce or estranged partners are involved in the dispute.

Source: ABC News, “Illegal Immigrant Fights for Custody of Young Son,” Olivia Katrandjian and Angela M. Hill, Feb. 28, 2012

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