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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Can Pennsylvania mediators be neutral in a divorce settlement?

Most everyone in Pennsylvania knows that it is virtually impossible for anyone to be completely neutral. Judges and mediators do their best, but each person’s bias is always there under the surface. When mediating a divorce settlement, some mediators will attempt to steer the parties toward the outcome they believe would happen if the couple went to court. Other mediators work hard not to think about what would happen if the couple was in court and let the couple direct the process.

Sometimes, a couple wants a mediator to decide issues for them because even though they don’t have as much say in the process, it is still less expensive than going to court. This will often happen when couples are not quite amicable enough to sit down and work together. They don’t want to have to go into a courtroom and “air their dirty laundry” in public and want to save some money as well.

On the other hand, there are couples who are able to work together more easily and only want a mediator to help them through the process while they make the decisions. There is often a higher degree of satisfaction in these mediations since the couple was more invested in the process. Often in these cases, both mediators and attorneys have to remind themselves that the couple can make any decisions they want so long as it isn’t against public policy or illegal.

Regardless of how much decision making the couple wants in mediation, the ultimate goal is to negotiate a divorce settlement without going to court. Both types of mediation, and everything in between, will accomplish that goal. Pennsylvania couples that are looking for a mediator may benefit from taking the time to find a mediator that fits the couple’s vision of how they want the process to happen.

Source: Huffington Post, “Is Mediation About Reaching the Same Result in a More Efficient and Economical Manner?” Mark Baer, July 2, 2013

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