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Is a “right of first refusal” a solution for an erratic schedule?

On Behalf of | Mar 16, 2024 | Family Law

Even the best of co-parenting situations have their challenges. This can be particularly true when one parent has an erratic schedule due to on-call employment or the fact that their job requires frequent travel. That can cause the affected parent to rely frequently on childcare services from relatives, friends, neighbors or nannies – much to the dismay of their co-parent.

If you’re concerned about how often your co-parent may need to turn your child over to a different caregiver, you may want to consider integrating a “right of first refusal” clause in your parenting plan.

How does a right of first refusal work?

Essentially, a right of first refusal clause obligates whichever parent has the child at any given time to notify their co-parent before leaving the child with a sitter for a certain length of time. The co-parent would then have the opportunity to take charge of the child, even though it isn’t technically their parenting time. Only if they decline can a third-party caretaker be used.

For example, imagine you have shared custody with your ex-spouse, where your child alternates their weeks at each household. However, your co-parent travels internationally for their company, and they suddenly have to leave right in the middle of “their” week with your child. A right of first refusal clause would obligate them to contact you and give you the opportunity to care for your child while they are gone before they resort to anybody else.

When co-parents are on amicable terms, this arrangement can help foster a cooperative spirit and create a stable caretaking situation for their children. Therefore, if you’re in a position to facilitate this spirit in your co-parenting relationship, it may benefit you to seek legal guidance concerning any parenting plan adjustments that may need to be made accordingly.

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