First Right of Refusal in Child Custody Cases

Last Updated on January 23, 2024 by Lori Pace

It is not always easy to determine how parenting time should be divided in shared parenting situations. However, the right of first refusal may help make it easier. A child custody agreement with a right of first refusal clause can be helpful for parents in managing the time the kids.

What is The First Right of Refusal Custody?

The most important influencers in the lives and careers of their children are their parents. Spending time with each parent helps shape their personalities and give them an idea of what a family is. Children should spend as much time as they can with their parents, even if safety issues are present. It sounds easy, but it can be more complicated for parents who are separated or divorced. Parent-child relationships can be affected by conflict and disagreements between parents.

The right of first refusal means that one parent must offer the other the chance to look after the children. This is before they can contact a babysitter or other family member to care for them. To help parents with parenting time exchanges, child custody agreements often include the right of refusal.

When Does This Apply?

Both planned and unplanned situations are subject to the right of first refusal. A parent that has plans for a night which must talk to the other parent . It’s best to talk to the other parent with enough time for them to decide or respond. It would be a conversation which would allow the other parent the option of caring for their children.

Otherwise, a friend, a babysitter or another family member can help look after them. Parents can also use the right of first refusal in certain situations, such as doctor’s visits, vacations, and others.

Advantages of The First Right of Refusal Custody

Right of first refusal not only helps parents to manage custody but also allows each parent to spend as much time with their children as possible. It encourages flexibility by allowing parents to call on one another for parenting time swaps. Additionally, it facilitates communication between parents so that they are better informed about who will take care of their children if none of them can.

Disadvantages of The First Right of Refusal Custody

A right of first refusal clause is a benefit for co-parents but it can also have its pitfalls. Parents who struggle to communicate with one another may have difficulty requesting changes in parenting time. Parents can also influence how successful their children are by the way they communicate their requests. If communication isn’t going well, a long email or a vague text message may not suffice to handle parenting time exchange requests.

Avoiding Conflict in First Right of Refusal Custody

avoid conflict in first right of refusal custody

While the right of first refusal encourages children to spend more time with their parents, conflict can make it difficult for parents to plan these exchanges. It is best for co-parents to communicate with each other about any tentative or set plans that may require adjustments to the family’s usual parenting schedule.

Reducing friction can be achieved by giving as much notice as you can. Giving ample notice and specific details about the requested change to parenting time is crucial for resolving first refusal issues. This may be a sign that for some people, sending an email or a text message to change the schedule won’t prove effective. Communication between parents can be more fluid and stress is lessened for all family members, including the kids. 

Requesting Changes In A Parenting Schedule On A Custody Calendar

Having a shared custody calendar allows one parent to input the dates they would like to give time to the other parent. The parent can also specify an expiration date to allow the parent to notify the other parent of receiving the request. The requester will respond by approving or rejecting the offer.

If they reject the offer, they can make a counteroffer. A clear response gives peace of mind to the parent who requested it. It also allows the parent to take the time to arrange other arrangements, such as hiring a babysitter.

Clear Communication Always Wins

A parenting agreement that includes a right to first refusal clause can offer significant benefits as well as complications. Right of first refusal is a great way for children to spend more time with their parents by being clear and prompt in communicating.

Lori Pace
Lori Pace

Lori Pace is a single mother of three daughters ages 7 and under. As a working mom from home, she balances kids, work and two crazy dogs with humor and love. Follow Lori as she honestly gives tips and advice based on her own experiences as a single mom!