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.
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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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Indian Child Welfare Act a factor in child custody case

Some Pennsylvania child custody decisions are not made without encountering some type of hiccup along the way. What can begin as a mutual decision between the parties can sometimes end up as a drawn-out child custody war. That is the case for the foster parents of a 5-year-old Native American boy.

The boy was only 2 years old when child services placed him with a couple after taking him from his mother. After caring for the child for two years, and with consent from the boy’s mother, the couple petitioned to become his legal guardian. A juvenile court denied the request on the basis of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which states a Native American child should be placed with family members or a foster family belonging to a Native American tribe. The court ruled that the child should be sent to live with a tribe 2,000 miles away from the foster family. Legal counsel for the tribe noted that had the tribe been notified when the boy was first removed from the custody of his mother, the matter would already be settled.

The guardian ad litem sought a stay of the lower court’s order, which was granted by an appeals court. The appellate court directed that the lower court hold a full evidentiary hearing to determine the best interests of the child involved. In the 15 months since then, there have been numerous appeals, the boy’s biological mother died, and he has continued to live with his foster parents. The tribe, along with the boy’s father will continue to fight to have the boy moved to its state of residence in accordance with the terms of the Indian Child Welfare Act.

This is not a typical child custody dispute, much to the relief of most parents. In Pennsylvania and elsewhere, child custody issues are best handled by experienced family law attorneys. A lawyer can help a client negotiate a parenting plan appropriate to the circumstances. When an agreement simply cannot be achieved, the attorney can represent the client’s interests in family court with a view toward achieving a favorable result.

Source: coshoctontribune.com, “Court rules boy will remain with Coshocton foster family“, Shelly Schultz, March 17, 2018


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