Senate Unanimously Approves Custody Reform Bill, Kayden’s Law

Posted on April 20th, 2021 in Child Custody/Support

Earlier this year, Senate Bill 78 — often known as Kayden’s Law — was reintroduced and unanimously voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill is named after Kayden Mancuso, a 7-year-old Pennsylvania girl who was murdered by her biological father during an unsupervised court-ordered overnight visit in the summer of 2018. The father then committed suicide. The bill works to strengthen the factors that family court judges must consider when deciding custody matters and makes clear that “the most important issue” is protecting the child. The bill and potentially a companion bill may be signed into law later this year.

“Children need the law to protect their interests in custody proceedings, especially those cases in which there are allegations of domestic violence or child sexual abuse. Far too often, courts overlook signs of abuse and rely on unscientific factors to make decisions that jeopardize a child’s life,” Senate Judiciary Chair Lisa Baker said.

Key Takeaways of Kayden’s Law

As part of Kayden’s Law, the courts will be required to consider criminal convictions, criminal charges, child abuse, and involvement with protective services as well as the custody factors. If needed, the courts will also implement within the custody order, and ensure any safety conditions and restrictions.

In addition to changing the way child custody and visitation are implemented and determined, the Bill also encourages 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. However, the legislature cannot force mandated training for the judiciary.

What distinguishes Kayden’s Law from other child custody regulations is that whereas current Pennsylvania law addresses 16 factors when considering custody or visitation, past violent and criminal behavior involving a parent is viewed equally to other factors such as distance between parents’ homes.

Now, if Kayden’s Law is to take effect, should the court find a history of abuse of the child or household member, the judge can consider safety restrictions such as:

  • Professional or nonprofessional supervised physical custody
  • Limitations on the time of day or number of hours of physical custody
  • Appointment of a qualified professional counselor
  • Limitations on legal custody
  • Any other safety conditions, restrictions, or safeguards as necessary to protect the child

In addition, under the bill, courts could consider additional criminal convictions when hearing a custody dispute. Such convictions include:

  • Simple assault
  • Recklessly endangering another person
  • Strangulation
  • Trafficking in individuals
  • Involuntary servitude
  • Patronizing a victim of sexual servitude
  • Cruelty to animal
  • Aggravated cruelty to animal
  • Animal fighting
  • Possession of animal fighting paraphernalia

At Kalinoski Law Offices, we know how difficult it can be to undergo the child custody process. But when you are fearful of your child being abused when in the presence of their other parent, know that the law will soon implement safeguards to help ease those worries.

Until then, you need a family law attorney you can trust when you know your ex is not capable nor should be permitted to take care of your child. Let us help.

Kayden’s Law: Child Custody Law Changes in PA

Our children are our most precious assets–let us help you protect them. If you need a modification to child custody or visitation because of suspected abuse by your ex, contact Kalinoski Law Offices. We will work with you tirelessly to ensure your child’s safety and well-being is at the forefront of the law and any decisions being made.

Schedule a free consultation today, and we’ll help make sense of it all.

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