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Could a “right of first refusal” clause give you more parenting time?

On Behalf of | Feb 14, 2024 | Family Law

Parenting after a separation or divorce can be challenging, and both parents are usually concerned with making the most of their time with their children. One powerful tool that may help you secure more time with your child is including a “right of first refusal” clause in your parenting plan.

Essentially, if one parent is unavailable during their scheduled time, a right of first refusal clause says they must first offer the other parent the opportunity to take care of the children before seeking alternative childcare arrangements.

How do you make a right of first refusal clause work?

Communication and a clear agreement between the co-parents involved are the keys to making a right of first refusal clause useful. Here are some things that you need to consider as you make your agreement:

  • How comfortable are you with the clause working both ways? You may envision the benefits for yourself, but this kind of clause applies to both parents. That means that you, also, will have to abide by whatever terms apply to your co-parent. That may require you to keep your ex aware of your schedule and any changes that could affect your ability to take care of your child.
  • What sort of things trigger the clause? A clause like this can be burdensome if it applies to short-term situations, like running an errand or going out to dinner on a date for a few hours. You may find the agreement more comfortable to manage if you set bigger triggers, such as “any absence beyond three hours” or “overnight absences.”
  • How long does the other parent have to respond? If a custodial parent has been called into work unexpectedly, they cannot usually wait around for hours while the other parent gets back to them. A lack of response after a certain time limit should be considered a decline to exercise their privilege under the clause.

Children thrive best on stability and consistency, and a right of first refusal can help them feel secure by keeping them with one or the other of their parents most of the time. Learning more about creative parenting time agreements may make it easier to find a plan that suits your family’s needs.