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Should I Include a Right of First Refusal in My Parenting Plan?

 Posted on July 16,2021 in Child Custody & Allocation of Parental Responsibility

Kane County child custody attorneyIf you are a parent who is getting divorced in Illinois and you wish to share custody of your children, you will be asked to create a parenting plan. The parenting plan or parenting agreement is a detailed description of how the parents will share parenting time and parental responsibilities. The parenting plan is not merely a formality. A carefully considered and well-planned parenting agreement can reduce co-parenting conflicts, help the parents avoid future legal disputes, and benefit the child’s adjustment and overall well-being. One provision you may want to include in your parenting plan is the “right of first refusal.”

Understanding Parenting Time Schedules

A key element of your parenting plan will be a schedule describing the allocation of parenting time. Formerly called visitation, parenting time refers to the time the child spends with each parent. You may decide that the child will live with one parent Monday through Wednesday and the other parent Thursday through Sunday, or that the child will spend time with a parent every other weekend. You may even assign parenting time to one parent during the school year and the other parent during the summer months. Parents have the freedom to design whatever parenting time schedule meets their needs, as long as it is in the child’s best interests. However, it is also important to consider what happens when a parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligation.

How the Right of First Refusal Affects Parenting Time

Consider the following scenario: A mother is responsible for watching the children on weekdays. However, a work trip requires her to be out of town Monday through Wednesday. Does the mother hire a sitter or ask the father to watch the children on those days? The right of first refusal is intended to address just such a situation.

Through the right of first refusal in your parenting plan, you can specify what happens if a parent cannot meet his or her parenting time commitment. If a parent goes on a vacation or otherwise cannot watch the children during his or her designated parenting time, the parent will be required to contact the other parent to see if he or she can watch the children. The other parent must be given the right to “refuse” the extra parenting time before a third party is asked to watch the children.

You will need to decide how the right of first refusal will apply to your situation. Does the right of first refusal apply to absences of only a few hours or does it only apply to significant absences? How will the children be moved between the two homes? How long does a parent have to decide to accept the added parenting time? Having a plan for these details can help you prevent confusion and uncertainty.

Contact a St. Charles Child Custody Lawyer

Reaching an agreement about all of the elements of your parenting plan can be difficult without support and legal guidance from an attorney. The Kane County, Illinois divorce lawyers at Weiler & Associates, Inc. can help you understand your rights, negotiate a parenting plan with the other parent, and address other divorce concerns. Call 630-331-9110 to schedule your confidential consultation.


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