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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What are the procedures for step-parent adoption?

When a step-parent in Pennsylvania decides to adopt the child of his or her spouse, there are specific procedures to follow. By such an adoption, a step-parent will become a legal parent of the child and must accept full responsibility for him or her. Once the adoption is legal, the non-custodial parent loses all legal rights to the child and will no longer have child custody or any other responsibilities toward the child.

Adoption laws vary from state to state, and some parents who consider adopting a spouse’s child from a previous marriage choose to utilize the services of an experienced adoption attorney to ensure the legalities of each step. A lawyer will also explain the requirements and inform the parent of what can be expected. Before an adoption can happen, consent is required as per state laws. The consent of the birth parents is typically necessary, and the laws of Pennsylvania regarding objections from a non-custodial parent will determine how such an issue will be handled. Depending on the age and maturity of the child to be adopted, the court may also want the child’s consent to the adoption.

According to Pennsylvania laws, an adopting parent must complete an adoption home study that will only be valid for one year. The purpose of the home study is for the consultant to determine the suitability of the household and to meet each member to assess how the adopted child will be accepted by all family members. Background checks will also be conducted during this time. Once the attorney has submitted all the required forms and documentation, it may be some time before the court will request a hearing. At this time, the judge will have conversations with both parents, and if the child is old enough or mature enough, he or she will also be questioned.

If all requirements are met according to Pennsylvania laws, and the judge is satisfied that the best interest of the child is served, a date for finalization of the adoption will be set. At this hearing, the legal adoption certificates will be issued. The final step to be taken before the new parent and adopted child can continue with their lives as a family is to submit an application for an amended birth certificate.

Source: adoption.about.com, “Learn About Step Parent Adoptions“, Carrie Craft, Accessed on Feb. 6, 2015

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