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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Does the tender years doctrine still affect fathers’ rights?

Many fathers insist that family courts still favor mothers over them when it comes to granting primary custody of a couple’s children. Even though the “tender years doctrine” was abolished by many states, including Pennsylvania, there still appears to be a preference toward women by family court judges. If this is true, the fathers’ rights movement still has much work to do.

The tender years doctrine dictated preferential treatment to mothers in custody cases, especially if the child or children involved were very young. Now, however, it is the best interests of the child that is supposed to be the guiding force behind a custody award. Some fathers contend that the name may have changed, but the outcome is the same.

The fact of the matter is that, overall, more women are still awarded primary custody of a couple’s children. Fathers are making headway, but progress is slow. One father fought for nearly three years for joint custody of his child, but was advised to sign a settlement agreement that he was not entirely happy with under the premise that his ex-wife retained the power in the parental relationship.

The letter of the law in many states, including Pennsylvania, is now written to be gender neutral. It is not supposed to matter whether the gender of the custodial parent is the male or female. As fathers’ rights issues continue to be pressed in court, any lingering gender bias with respect to child custody proceedings may be eliminated. In the meantime, many fathers continue to claim that some judges simply conclude that the best interests of a young child is to remain with his or her mother, regardless of the underlying facts.

Source: Al Jazeera America, “Tender years” make it tough for dads, Theodore Ross, Jan. 16, 2014

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