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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Pennsylvania child support for rape victims that give birth?

Each year, more than 32,000 women are raped in the United States. Some of them become pregnant, and some of those give birth. While child custody and visitation issues have spawned laws seeking to protect rape victims and their children from attackers, one issue that has received little attention is child support. Recently, a Pennsylvania legislator announced plans to introduce a bill in the state legislature addressing these circumstances.

Currently, Pennsylvania law offers the rape victim that gives birth a choice. The parental rights of the rapist can be involuntarily terminated, providing protection for both the victim and the child. However, if the rapist’s parental rights are taken away, the mother also loses the right to collect child support from her attacker. In effect, the victim must choose between terminating parental rights and collecting child support, a choice made all the more difficult when the victim has limited finances.

Under the proposed law, the victim would no longer have to choose. In what one observer noted was a common sense approach to the issue, the new bill would permit the rape victim to terminate the parental rights of her attacker while retaining the right to receive child support. The state representative introducing the bill indicated that he is seeking co-sponsors before submitting the proposal to the House Judiciary Committee for formal consideration.

While it remains to be seen how the legislation will fare, a woman who bears a child from rape or incest must face a myriad of legal issues. The best first step may be to gain an understanding of the applicable laws and procedures to protect the rights of the victim and child. Those affected can take solace in knowing they do not have to face these difficult issues alone. Help is available to both protect the rights of the victim and act in the best interests of any children affected by ensuring the right of the mother to seek and receive child support.

Source: lehighvalleylive.com, “Proposed Pennsylvania bill would prevent rape victims from choosing between rapist’s parental rights, child support,” Colin McEvoy, Feb. 25, 2013

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