When two people share children, there is no question that they will have to continue working hard for the mutual benefit of their children long after the divorce or custody case is over. The court will enter an order that provides for specific parenting time for the children, including holidays, when and how the children shall be exchanged, and a variety of other issues. In some cases, the parents may be able to cooperate and settle on what the provisions of the custody order should say. In such a case, it is not uncommon to see a clause called the “right of first refusal.” This right means that if the parent who is currently scheduled to enjoy parenting time is unable to do so because of work or some other obligation, then the other parent will be given the first opportunity to care for the children before a babysitter or other family member is asked to provide care.
The right of first refusal can have some definite benefits for some parents. The clause tends to work well only in situations where the parents are still on relatively good terms and communicate well with each other. If you and your former spouse or partner tend to bicker over seemingly small issues, the right of first refusal may not work well in your case. The clause may simply end up providing another area of conflict.
Right of first refusal also tends to require that the parties live relatively close together. If the parents live an hour away from each other, the right of first refusal could result in a lot of unfortunate extra car time for the children.
The clause could also be a good idea where you and the other parent can easily agree on specific terms for when the clause would apply. You will want the clause to specifically state the amount of time required before the clause would come into effect. For example, will it apply to blocks of at least four hours? Six hours? Only overnights? Whatever the amount of time, it is important to make sure the clause is specific. Without specificity, there could easily end up with conflict when the parents don’t agree on when and how the clause should apply.
If you have questions about your custody order or action, we are here to help you understand your rights and responsibilities. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and we can talk with you about your case and your children.