Nearly every divorced parent, even if they think they have a fair custody agreement, would like more time with their child. One way to get that is to ask for a right of first refusal provision in your parenting plan.
Besides giving you additional parenting time, it can cut down on the amount of time your child spends with a third-party caregiver. These provisions are typically mutual, but they don’t have to be.
What does a right first refusal provision include?
This provision, which is sometimes referred to as “right of first option for child care” or “first right of refusal” generally states that whenever a parent is going to be unable to care for their child during any part of their designated parenting time, they need to give their co-parent a chance to do so before they call anyone else.
This can happen without much notice, such as if something comes up and you have to go into work for a few hours on a weekend you have your child or deal with an emergency with an elderly relative or get sick yourself. It can be something you know about further out, such as a wedding you need to attend on a day your child is supposed to be at your house.
You can include as much detail as you like. Many couples stipulate things like:
- How soon they have to ask the other parent
- How much time they have to respond
- What means of communication they’ll use
- How long you’ll need care for before you notify your co-parent (for example, if it’s just an hour, it might be easier to have a next door neighbor come over)
- If they’ll swap hours so that the parent who has to give up time can make it up later
Typically, this arrangement works only if co-parents live relatively close to each other.
If you and your co-parent have an amicable relationship, you’ll likely each do your best to make sure you do what you can to give each other the chance to take care of your child. If you don’t, you may need to include more detail. With experienced legal guidance, you can work out a right of first refusal provision that allows both of you to spend as much time caring for your child as possible.