Protesters in eastern Pennsylvania are demanding that the state’s child custody laws to better protect children.
The protests come on what would’ve been the 10th birthday of Kayden Mancuso, a young girl who was killed by her father in 2018.
Her father, who had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder, moderate anxious distress, narcissistic and antisocial personality traits, was still granted partial custody of Kayden despite a history of violent behavior.
The group, led by family members and family-friends, spearheaded state legislation that would grant children like Kayden more protection. The bill, named after Kayden, would require courts to place the welfare of the child above all other consideration when deciding child custody cases.
More specifically, Senate Bill 868, known as “Kayden’s Law”, would require any child custody order to impose safety restrictions meant to ensure the child’s well-being if a parent has a history of abuse.
For many child welfare advocates bills like Kayden’s law are long overdue. They claim that current laws do not do enough to protect the interests and well-being of children caught up in child custody disputes.
According to the state’s current child custody law (23 PA C.S. §§5321 – 40), courts are directed to give weighted consideration to any matter or issue affecting the well-being and safety of the child. The law also creates requirements for any person considered a “designated mandatory reporter” to report instances of suspected child abuse.
Child welfare advocates claim that language and wording of the law is vague and doesn’t go far enough.
According to the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence’s website, “While the law makes the safety of the child a priority, it can be a difficult law to understand. For that reason, those involved in custody matters are encouraged to seek the advice of a lawyer or legal clinic so they can understand how the law might apply to their situations.”