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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Unconscionable child support enforcement earns court rebuke

There are a variety of enforcement actions available against those that owe back child support in Pennsylvania. Some options include garnishment of wages, interception of federal and state tax returns, and even the threat of jail. In circumstances where an individual owes more than $2,500 in child support arrears, the U.S. Department of State will even freeze an individual’s passport. That happened recently to one father from a southeastern state. However, it appears he did not even owe the amounts claimed.

In Dec. 2012, the ex wife filed an affidavit with the State’s Attorney’s Office attesting to the fact that her ex husband was behind in child support payments for more than $3,600. That office began litigation against the father and also notified the state’s Department of Revenue. The Department then advised the child support office of the federal government, who notified the Department of State. As a result, the man was barred from renewing his passport, exposing his technology business to severe consequences because he is said to frequently travel to South America.

The case languished through the Florida judicial system before a judge met the issues head on. Determining that the State’s Attorney’s Office had overstepped its bounds and spawned unnecessary litigation, the judge ordered that office to evenly split the man’s legal fees with the ex-wife. All told, the parties must reimburse the man for more than $15,000 in unnecessary legal fees.

There are certainly instances in Pennsylvania when strong enforcement measures are needed to collect child support arrears. However, it is also true that both custodial and noncustodial parents have rights under our laws, and each deserves to be treated fairly and impartially. In those instances where that is not the case, litigants may find a court will act to protect a party that is wronged. In the meantime, those parents who are simply unable to pay support orders due to a change in circumstances also have the opportunity to petition the court for a downward modification of future payments, based upon a showing of just cause.

Source: The Miami Herald, “Miami judge calls child support prosecutor’s actions ‘reprehensible’,” David Ovalle, Feb. 7, 2013

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