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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Should VA disability benefits be used in spousal support?

Veteran’s Administration (VA) disability benefits, as Pennsylvania veterans who may receive these benefits may know, are exempt from taxation as well as claims by creditors, attachment, or seizure. However, can VA disability benefits be considered when calculating spousal support in the event of a divorce?

One veteran has questioned whether this practice is legal after it was ruled that he must pay $1,000 per month in spousal support when his only income is from VA disability benefits and Social Security Disability Insurance totaling $4,400 a month.

The veteran suffers from severe Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from his service and, as a result, is unable to hold any form of employment. It is argued among some that the VA disability benefits he receives are intended to benefit both the veteran and his family who make sacrifices by living and caring for the disabled veteran, and thus should continue to benefit the family in any subsequent divorce. However, others point out that a family is no longer making this sacrifice when a divorce occurs. Any additional funds the veteran could have been receiving to benefit additional members would have stopped as soon as the divorce was official, as traditionally happens in these cases.

It is claimed that the veteran’s former spouse has disabilities of her own; however, none of these are as a result of military service, and thus it is argued that she would have to seek disability benefits from another source. A conclusion of this case has not been indicated and is awaiting a determination by the U.S. Supreme Court, though some states have begun to make adjustments to legislation in order to separate disability benefits like these from marital property to be split in the event of a divorce. Pennsylvania veterans who find themselves in similar situations may benefit from being fully aware of current and future legislation that may affect the inclusion of their disability benefits in calculating spousal support.

Source: HeraldNet.com, “Ruling sought on split of military benefits in divorce,” Tom Philpott, May 21, 2012

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