HARRISBURG − October 17, 2023 − Senate Bill 55, known as Kayden’s Law, was unanimously voted out of the Senate Judiciary Committee today. The bi-partisan legislation is sponsored by Senators Steve Santarsiero (D-10) and Lisa Baker (R-20), and is named for Kayden Mancuso, a seven-year-old from Lower Makefield Township, who was killed in August 2018 by her biological father during a court-ordered, unsupervised visit granted following a year-long custody dispute.
“No child in Pennsylvania should fear for their safety or be left alone with an abuser,” said Senator Santarsiero. “Kayden’s Law will ensure the safety of the child is paramount in custody cases and will absolutely save children’s lives.”
During the committee meeting Senator Baker noted that Kayden would have turned 13 years old on Sunday, October 15th.
Senate Bill 55 will:
- 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 an ongoing risk of abuse, that any custody order includes safety conditions and restrictions necessary, including supervised visitation, 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.
Sen. Santarsiero continued, “Kayden’s Law has been a collaborative effort, led by the tireless advocacy of Kayden’s mom Kathy Sherlock, along with family law experts. I am proud to have the opportunity to sponsor this legislation and will continue to advocate for the bill to be brought before the full Senate.”
Kayden’s Law passed the Senate in 2021, during the previous Senate session, but was not brought up for a vote in the House. With the start of the new session in January 2023, all bills that were not passed in the previous session must be re-introduced and begin the legislative process anew.
Senate Bill 55 may now be brought up for a full vote of the Senate.