Section 5 of HB 369 is where the most substantial changes to Georgia law were made in the bill. It affected several existing Code sections and I will address each by reference to the statute it changed or added.
The previous version of this statute was completely deleted and replaced with new provisions
Parenting plans are now required in all cases involving custody of a child, except in family violence cases. Each parent can submit their own proposed plan or they can submit a joint plan. It is up to the judge as to when the plan must be submitted. A plan must be submitted for all final hearings in original or modification of custody cases, and may, in the judge’s discretion be required for temporary hearings. The final decree in any case involving custody must include a parenting plan.
What goes into a parenting plan? Unless otherwise ordered by the judge, a parenting plan shall include the following:
(A) A recognition that a close and continuing parent-child relationship and continuity in the child´s life will be in the child´s best interest;
(B) A recognition that the child´s needs will change and grow as the child matures and demonstrate that the parents will make an effort to parent that takes this issue into account so that future modifications to the parenting plan are minimized;
(C) A recognition that a parent with physical custody will make day-to-day decisions and emergency decisions while the child is residing with such parent; and
(D) That both parents will have access to all of the child´s records and information, including, but not limited to, education, health, extracurricular activities, and religious communications.
(2) Unless otherwise ordered by the judge, or agreed upon by the parties, a parenting plan shall include, but not be limited to:
(A) Where and when a child will be in each parent´s physical care, designating where the child will spend each day of the year;
(B) How holidays, birthdays, vacations, school breaks, and other special occasions will be spent with each parent including the time of day that each event will begin and end;
(C) Transportation arrangements including how the child will be exchanged between the parents, the location of the exchange, how the transportation costs will be paid, and any other matter relating to the child spending time with each parent;
(D) Whether supervision will be needed for any parenting time and, if so, the particulars of the supervision;
(E) An allocation of decision-making authority to one or both of the parents with regard to the child´s education, health, extracurricular activities, and religious upbringing, and if the parents agree the matters should be jointly decided, how to resolve a situation in which the parents disagree on resolution; and
(F) What, if any, limitations will exist while one parent has physical custody of the child in terms of the other parent contacting the child and the other parent´s right to access education, health, extracurricular activity, and religious information regarding the child.
Finally, if the parties cannot reach agreement on a permanent parenting plan, each party shall file and serve a proposed parenting plan on or before the date set by the judge. Failure to comply with filing a parenting plan may result in the judge adopting the plan of the opposing party if the judge finds such plan to be in the best interests of the child.