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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How would international child custody be decided in Pittsburgh?

Arrangements of child custody can be a point of contention between a lot of divorcing parents. Having to come around to the idea of sharing a child between two households, or giving up full parenting rights to a child can be a hard one to grasp. These child custody agreements can be even more difficult for parents who don’t live in the same place, like Pittsburgh, and even more still for parents who might be living in entirely different countries.

One former couple is feeling this pain as they battle between the United States and another country for custody of their 5-year-old daughter. The parents had been married for several years, though the mother has lived in abroad with their daughter since 2007 while the father served in the U.S. Army. When the couple separated, the father was granted custody of their daughter in the U.S.

However, the mother appealed, and a federal court followed The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction. In interpreting this international treaty, the court determined that Scotland was the “habitual residence” of the daughter, and that she should reside there. That U.S. district judge ruled in late 2011 that the daughter must be returned to her mother’s custody in Scotland.

The father is now appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court to have the child custody agreement changed again, and a decision is expected sometime before June 2013. However, as is often found in such cases in Pittsburgh and elsewhere, the fact that Scotland is where the daughter has spent much of her life may mean it is in her best interest to remain in the culture with which she is most familiar and comfortable.

Nevertheless, there are important legal questions to be considered, particularly in view of the fact that the father is a military member whose residence has presumably changed based on his deployments. In matters of child custody, it can be easy for parents to get caught up in what they want, but in the end it the underlying issue is almost always what is best for the child and their well being.

Source: Chicago Tribune, “US Supreme Court to hear int’l child custody dispute,” Jonathan Stempel and Terry Baynes, Aug. 13, 2012

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