An Analysis of Georgia House Bill 369: Arbitration in Custody Cases

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 bill adds a new Code section 19-9-1.1. This statute makes it expressly permissible for the parents of a child to agree to binding arbitration on the issue of child custody and matters relative to visitation, parenting time, and a parenting plan. The parents may select their arbiter and decide which issues will be resolved in binding arbitration. The arbiter´s decisions shall be incorporated into a final decree awarding child custody unless the judge makes specific written factual findings that under the circumstances of the parents and the child the arbiter´s award would not be in the best interests of the child. In its judgment, the judge may supplement the arbiter´s decision on issues not covered by the binding arbitration.