Kayden’s Law Passes Committee, Moves Closer To Senate Vote

Kayden Mancuso, 7, leans on her mother, Kathryn Sherlock, with her (from left) half-brother Blake, 1; stepfather Brian Sherlock; and half-brother Kyler. Photo submitted Aug. 6, 2018.

A bill aiming to overhaul Pennsylvania’s child custody laws received unanimous support from the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday.

The bill is Kayden’s Law, named after Kayden Mancuso. At just seven years old, she was killed by her biological father in a murder-suicide in 2018.

Mancuso was set to enter second grade at Edgewood Elementary School in the fall.

Since then, Kayden’s family has been working with State Senator Steve Santarsiero to advocate for Senate Bill 868.

“Never again. That should be our vow as lawmakers. Never again should one of our children die or be abused because Pennsylvania law does not do enough to protect them. The tragedy of Kayden Mancuso’s death demonstrates that the current child custody law does not in fact do enough,” said Santarsiero.

Kathryn Sherlock (right) testifies with Danielle Pollack in Oct 2019. Photo by Rick Rickman.

Her mother, Kathryn Sherlock, testified to lawmakers at a State Senate Policy Committee hearing last October. She stated her ex-husband had convictions for violent crimes and suicidal tendencies, but a judge refused to heed her warnings. 

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

Santarsiero says Kayden’s Law would make the safety of a child the paramount factor in child custody disputes.

“In the months since that hearing, I have been working with Kayden’s family and advocates from across the Commonwealth to fine-tune the bill’s language. The bill that was voted favorably out of committee today represents feedback from experts who work in our family court system every day, to ensure no family has to experience the same horror as Kayden’s family.”

Kayden’s Law must still pass in the Senate and state House before heading to the governor. Then, it must receive a nod from the governor to take effect.