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 parents learn of historic child custody award

Pennsylvania residents may be interested to learn that history was made in the case of a child custody battle between a woman and the child welfare agency of the state where she lives. The two-year child custody battle is considered historic because the mother has a slight mental disability yet was ultimately given full custody of her daughter. The mother and her parents took their complaint of illegal discrimination to the federal level.

When the baby was only two days old, the state took her, citing the mother’s disability as the reason they determined she was not able to care for the baby. State records claim a missed night feeding, improperly burping after feeding and awkwardness in changing the baby’s diaper while the two were still in the hospital as reasons for the removal. The mother and her parents have only been allowed supervised visits in one-hour increments since the baby was placed in foster care.

The mother lives with her parents, who are both retired and who expressed their willingness to the state to help raise the baby. The request was denied by the state, so the case was taken to a federal court, where it was ordered by both the Justice Department and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that the state return the child to her mother or they would be confronted with a lawsuit. The order also mandated a change of state child welfare policy as well as instructions to compensate the mother and her parents. The mother is now working to obtain her high school diploma and has completed CPR training provided by the state.

This child custody case could have an impact on those in Pennsylvania and across the nation who have had children taken from them by their state of residence because of a mental disability. Currently, the national number of parents in this category reaches in the millions with removal rates being anywhere from 40 to 80 percent. Because the laws are constantly changing, people who are facing similar situations should have their case assessed on a continuing basis.

Source: today.com, “Disabled mom gets daughter back after legal battle“, Susan Donaldson James, Mar. 12, 2015

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