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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Mother had to fight state in child custody dispute

It is the job of a Pennsylvania’s child welfare caseworker to take a child from a home when there is perceived danger within that home. Should that happen, the parents of the child are often in for a difficult child custody battle against the state to have their child returned to them. One woman had to fight to regain child custody of her son simply because she was the victim of abuse.

The woman had endured not only permanent injury from a tour of duty in the Iraq War, but also numerous attacks by the biological father of her son. After he was arrested and convicted, she won sole custody of her son, with the father ordered to have no contact with the boy. She and her son moved to another state in search of better security, as they now both suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome. Because the cost of health insurance was so high, she was not able to get the needed medical treatment for herself and her son and contacted the state’s health services for assistance. Instead of giving them the help they needed, the agency took the boy away.

It is often thought by state agencies and even courts that those who have been abused are traumatized to the point that they are not able to care for themselves, and especially not their children. The state to which the woman and her son moved, however, instructs agency workers to keep families together when reasonably possible. Guidance on policy has been given to caseworkers, including formal training. The training that would benefit these caseworkers is often disregarded because most have more work than they can handle without the interruption.

The mother and son are now back together, and a family law attorney who works with victims of domestic abuse has filed a lawsuit against the state agency. She says the treatment by the agency exacerbates the trauma of those who were abused. The attorney hopes the suit will prompt change on the part of the child welfare system.

The best living situation for the child should be the focus of any custody question. Whether the child custody battle is against a state agency or another person, the need for legal representation exists. A Pennsylvania attorney will know the laws specific to the state and can help a client in the fight for the child.

Source: psmag.com, “Victims of Spousal Abuse Are Losing Their Children to Social Services“, Natalie Pattillo, March 5, 2018

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