Legal Professionals of Hirsch & Ehlenberger

Why many parents include a right of first refusal in parenting plans

On Behalf of | Apr 19, 2024 | Child Custody

Sharing custody is a challenge for those who have ended a romantic relationship. Parents often resent the loss of time with their children when they share custody. They may also find it very difficult to agree with one another on major decisions about the children.

For the most part, co-parents have to learn to accept that they cannot control or micromanage what happens at the other house. However, there are certain terms people can include in their parenting plans that could help them make up for lost time with their children and keep them out of volatile or unpleasant scenarios.

It is common for one parent to request the right of first refusal in a custody arrangement. What role does the right of first refusal play in a parenting plan?

It can give each parent more time with their kids

The right of first refusal in a custody agreement relates to the division of parenting time. Essentially, one parent requests that the other give them an opportunity to spend time with the children if the person with parenting time requires childcare support.

For example, perhaps one parent is a nurse and gets called in to work an unexpected shift at the hospital while they have the kids. If their parenting plan has the right of first refusal included, the other parent should be the first person that the nurse checks with before reaching out to family members or a childcare professional.

For those struggling with the reality of limited parenting time, the right of first refusal can give them slightly more access. Other times, the concern might be not the lack of time but rather the caliber of childcare that one parent obtains. Whether they have a romantic partner who seems unstable or family members who struggle with addiction, having the children come to stay with the other parent might be preferable to putting them into an unsafe childcare environment.

The more details that parents include when initially negotiating terms for shared custody, the less likely a family is to end up embroiled in major conflicts later. Parents who add the right of first refusal to a parenting plan may enjoy more time with their children and may worry less about their well-being. Integrating thoughtful terms into custody agreements or asking for those terms from the courts is often important for those preparing for shared custody.


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