Are you hopelessly locked in a dispute with your spouse or ex about details of visitation or parenting time? Georgia law says that the parties can agree to binding arbitration on issues 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 must be incorporated into a final decree regarding child custody unless the judge makes specific written factual findings explaining why the arbiter’s award would not be in the best interests of the child. O.C.G.A. § 19-9-1.1.
Many people want to mediate their divorce or child custody cases. What is the difference between arbitration and mediation? Mediation is a process where the mediator has no authority to make a decision; the mediator is a neutral who tries to help the parties reach an agreement. In binding arbitratration, on the other hand, the parties submit their issue to a neutral arbitrator and they give the arbitrator authority to make a decision that is binding on both parties.
Many people do not like the idea of binding arbitration because they may not like the arbitrator’s decision! However, if you are involved in a case where you argue about every little detail of parenting time, visitation, etc., binding arbitration can be a good alternative to continuing a costly court battle.
Sometimes, parties can identify a third person whom they both trust – such as a counselor – and they can agree to submit parenting disputes to this third party for binding arbitration.
If you would like to explore binding arbitration as a possibility for your custody or visitation dispute, contact Hindson & Melton LLC.
KSH June 5, 2012