Kayden’s Law Passes Senate
Kayden’s Law, the effort to change how child custody cases are managed, borne out of tragedy passed the State Senate earlier today in a 46 to 4 vote Thursday.
The law named in memory of a Lower Makefield’s Kayden Mancuso who was murdered by her father, Jeff in August of 2018 during a unsupervised overnight visit her Mother, Kathryn Sherlock, vehemently opposed at the time.
The bill originally introduced by State Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) with state Representatives Tina Davis (D-141) and Perry Warren (D-31) introducing a house version in the Fall of 2019.
The aim of the legislation is:
- Strengthen the current factors that judges must consider in making custody and visitation decisions, to make it clear that the most important issue is the protection of the child;
- Ensure that if there is a finding by the court of a history of abuse or an ongoing risk of abuse, that any custody order includes safety conditions and restrictions necessary to protect the child; and
- Encourage the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania to implement an annual educational and training program for judges and relevant court personnel on child abuse, adverse childhood experiences, domestic violence, and its impact on children.
What happened to Kayden was a heartbreaking tragedy, but, unfortunately, not unique. When courts fail to read the signs of domestic abuse and award custody of a child or visitation rights to an abuser the consequences can be dire. A review of 4,000 domestic court cases show that the abuser wins custody or unsupervised visitation 81-percent of the time, the sponsors of the measure say.
Following Kayden’s death, the family launched Kayden’s Korner in her memory, with the mission “to affect judicial reform of the family court system through the education of government to the signs of domestic abuse, shine a light on the impact of mental illness and lobby government to make the health and safety of children the singular concern of the court system”
“No child in Pennsylvania should ever be left alone with an abuser, period. Kayden’s Law will help ensure that that never happens again,” Santarsiero said today.
Senate Judiciary Chair, Lisa Baker (R is now the prime sponsor of the Senate version of the bill
The Bill now moves on to the House for consideration.