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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Relatives seeking child custody in Pennsylvania

Under certain circumstances, such as the death of a child’s parents, it will be up to the Pennsylvania courts to determine what will happen to that child. In the absence of another parent, the child’s grandparents are normally the next relative that can petition for custody. As things stand now, other relatives such as aunts and uncles do not have the right to petition for child custody except under specific circumstances.

The legislature of one of Pennsylvania’s neighboring states is attempting the pass a bill that would allow what are defined as “second degree relatives” to petition for custody of a child. There are circumstances where a child’s grandparents may be willing, but are not able to take custody of their grandchild. However, many families want to make sure that the child is placed with a family member and does not have to be put in foster care.

In the absence of such legislation, other relatives such as aunts and uncles may only be eligible to petition for custody if they have been taking care of the child for a long period of time. It would then be up to that relative to show the court they have had physical custody of the child and why they should be allowed to continue with that arrangement. It will then be up to the court to make the final determination of who should be given custody of the child.

One of the most difficult times in a child’s life would have to be when he or she loses one or both parents. Determining child custody issues in this case can be both difficult and heart wrenching. In the end, the court will do whatever it can to ensure that the best interests of the child are met.

Source: troyrecord.com, “VIDEO: Proposed bill elevates legal status of other relatives in child custody cases,” Kyle Hughes, May 31, 2013

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