Long Island mom pushing to reform New York state divorce, family courts with bipartisan support

Originally published in CBS News on August 11, 2022.

It's a Long Island mom's emotional mission:  to protect children at risk of domestic violence.

Jacqueline Franchetti, of Manhasset, is on a painful journey to reform New York state divorce and family courts in honor of her 2-year-old daughter, Kyra, killed by her father amid a bitter custody battle during a court-sanctioned visit -- details inconceivable to comprehend.

"It's an incredibly, incredibly hard day for me because you see, six years ago, I had to say my final goodbye to Kyra," Franchetti said. "She was shot not once but twice in the back while she slept by her abusive father, who then poured gasoline all over his home."

He then killed himself. Child protective services and Franchetti advised a judge at the time Kyra's father was out for revenge, citing his volatility and anger, but claim the judge rubberstamped joint custody.

"This is what abusers do. They hurt the child to hurt you," Franchetti said.

As CBS2's Jennifer McLogan reports, six years later, Kyra's Law is getting attention from both sides of the aisle. It would mandate judge training and prevent abusers from gaining custody.

"Most importantly, we would defer to supervised visits and focus on the best interest of the child's safety," Republican Sen. Anthony Palumbo said.

Democratic Sen. Anna Kaplan sponsors Kyra's Law.

"We have assemblymembers, we have senators who see the need to make changes to very antiquated laws here in the state of New York," she said.

The mission is to raise awareness about the dangers to children inside and outside of our overwhelmed divorce and family court systems.

The Safe Center LI says since Kyra, 20 other children have been murdered by a parent going through a custody case in New York state.

"It is entirely preventable, and we can make sure this never happens again," Franchetti said.

They are urging the governor give Kyra's Law and eight other attached child safety bills top legislative priority.

So far, half of the New York Assembly and one-third of the Senate is behind Kyra's Law. Opponents say both parents should have the right to automatic visitation and shared custody.