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Including the Right of First Refusal in Your Parenting Plan

 Posted on May 20, 2016 in Parenting

first refusal, DuPage County family law attorneysIf you hope to share parental responsibilities for your child following a divorce or break-up, you and the other parent will need to develop an agreement for doing so. Known in Illinois as a parenting plan, this agreement is intended to allocate responsibilities to each of you, so that you both fully understand your rights and attendant obligations. The law provides a number of elements that must be covered in a parenting plan, but one, in particular, can be a major sticking point for many couples. You and your spouse will need to determine how the right of first refusal will apply to your unique situation.

Understanding First Refusal

The right of first refusal is a concept that stems from the understanding that, during your assigned parenting time, you may occasionally be required to find an alternative source of care for your child. Put simply, sometimes you need a babysitter. Whether you want a social night out with friends or you need to travel out of town for a week on business, the occasional need for a sitter is understandable.

When the right of first refusal is included in a parenting plan, it means you may need to offer the other parent the opportunity to care for the child before asking a family member or hiring someone else. The other parent is not required to accept—hence the "right of first refusal"—but you may need to ask anyway, even if you are all but certain he or she will say no.

Setting the Terms

You and your spouse are permitted—encouraged even—to create your own criteria for invoking the right of first refusal. And, as long as the child’s best interests are protected, there is no wrong way to do it. For example, you may decide that if you need a sitter for legitimate work-related purposes, you must offer the opportunity to the other parent, but for personal plans, you need to hire someone else. You could also choose to base the right of first refusal on the length of time for which alternate care is needed. A single evening, for example, may not invoke the right, but a full day’s worth of care would.

Once you have agreed to reasonable terms, you will also need to decide how notification and response will work between you, including how much notice is needed. Are text messages okay or is a phone call necessary? Finally, you must also address transportation. Perhaps the asking parent is responsible for dropping the child up and picking him or her up, or maybe transportation is to be based on convenience at the time care is needed. As long as your arrangement is reasonable and does not negatively impact your child, it will be approved by the court as part of your parental responsibilities order.

Call For an Appointment

Negotiating a parenting plan can be challenging, but it is an essential foundation for parents looking to move forward after divorce. For help in developing your parenting plan, contact an experienced Lombard family law attorney at A. Traub & Associates today. We will review your situation and work with you in creating an arrangement that protects your rights while serving your child’s needs.



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