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.
Subsection (a)(6) of the new version of OCGA section 19-9-3 addresses the selection made by children who are between the ages of 11 and 14.
“In all custody cases in which the child has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years, the judge shall consider the desires and educational needs of the child in determining which parent shall have custody. The judge shall have complete discretion in making this determination, and the child´s desires shall not be controlling. The judge shall further have broad discretion as to how the child´s desires are to be considered, including through the report of a guardian ad litem. The best interests of the child standard shall be controlling. The parental selection of a child who has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years shall not, in and of itself, constitute a material change of condition or circumstance in any action seeking a modification or change in the custody of that child. The judge may issue an order granting temporary custody to the selected parent for a trial period not to exceed six months regarding the custody of a child who has reached the age of 11 but not 14 years where the judge hearing the case determines such a temporary order is appropriate.”