For parents who go through a divorce, the hardest part is not having their children with them 100% of the time. These days, it’s common for the courts to encourage some form of shared parenting so that both parents stay active and involved in their children’s lives.
A “right of first refusal” clause may be a way to eke out a little more time with your children, however. Here’s how this works:
When your co-parent can’t be present, you get the first chance to step in
Basically, the right of first refusal means that each parent must offer the other the first opportunity to take care of the child or children before they call a third party to babysit, whether that party is a family member (like a grandparent), a friend or a professional caretaker.
These clauses may be particularly useful in cases where one or both of the co-parents are in occupations that sometimes require them to be “on call,” like a doctor or an EMT. They can also be useful in cases where one or both co-parents have occupations that sometimes require them to travel. Without such a clause, the other parent would have no say in who is taking care of the children when it’s not “their time” with the kids.
This kind of clause cuts both ways, and it requires a lot of cooperation
It’s important to remember that whatever agreement you make will apply to both you and your co-parent, so you don’t want to impose any rules that you would personally find burdensome.
In addition, the agreement needs to be specific and clear. Is the other parent to be notified via phone or text? How much time to respond does the other parent have? If the requesting parent has to leave right away, who will look after the child until the other parent arrives?
It’s also important to recognize that this kind of agreement works best when the parents are cooperative with each other and willing to be somewhat flexible. If the relationship is antagonistic, it may be harder to make work without putting undue stress on both the adults and the children.
Custody plans don’t have to be formulaic. With the right guidance, you can craft a unique agreement that’s right for your family.