New bill to revamp PA child custody laws

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HARRISBURG, Pa. (WTAJ) — A bill set to revamp child custody laws in Pennsylvania received a unanimous vote in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Senate Bill 868, sponsored by Senator Steve Santarsiero (D-10) will strengthen current factors that judges consider to decide custody decisions, along with ensuring that any custody order includes safety conditions and restrictions if there is a finding of a history of abuse or ongoing abuse.

The bill has been named “Kayden’s Law” after Kayden Mancuso, a seven-year-old who was killed by her biological father in 2018 during a court-ordered, unsupervised visit.

“Children should be our number one priority. Their safety should be their number one priority,” said Kathy Sherlock, mother of Kayden Mancuso. “Parental rights supersede children’s rights in our courts, and that’s backward.  We’re hoping that Pennsylvania leads in something we so desperately need.”

Kayden’s Law would also encourage Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court to implement a training program for judges and court personnel on child abuse and domestic violence.

Sen. Santarsiero said that the tragedy of Kayden Mancuso’s death demonstrates that the current child custody law does not in fact do enough.

“Never again.  That should be our vow as lawmakers,” Santarsiero said. “Never again should one of our children die or be abused because Pennsylvania law does not do enough to protect them.”

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