What is Kayden’s Law?
Kayden’s Law (SB 78) was introduced following the unfortunate murder of seven-year old Kayden Mancuso at the hands of her father. The bill passed the State Senate on June 24, 2021 and was sent to the House.
Kayden’s law defines abuse much more broadly. It also changes the custody factors to give greater weight to abuse in custody determinations and expands the list of criminal convictions to be considered in custody matters. Kayden’s Law then requires the court to vet all allegations of past and present abuse in light of these heightened standards and to create a rebuttable presumption in favor of supervised visitation in cases of abuse. In short, Kayden’s Law creates a rebuttable presumption that a parent with any history of abuse against any household member may only be allowed supervised visitation. The court may award an alternative form of custody if the court then finds by a preponderance of evidence (1) the party no longer poses a risk of abuse to the child or any other household member AND (2) another custody arrangement is in the best interest of the child and will not jeopardize the health and safety of the child.
Potential Impact on Claims of Parental Alienation: Kayden’s Law may make it more difficult to make a successful claim of parental alienation if the other party has alleged abuse. In particular, the decreased focus on whether a parent facilitates a relationship with the other parent and the increased focus on the preference of the child in cases of alleged abuse may result increased opportunities for parental alienation.