How one clause can give you more time with your child

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2023 | Child custody

Even when divorced parents share custody of their child, one or both often feels like they don’t have as much parenting time as they’d like. One way you can get more time with your child is to seek a “right of first refusal” clause in your custody agreement and parenting plan. 

This clause can not only give you more opportunities to spend time with your child, but it can also minimize the time your child has to spend with a third-party caregiver, whether it’s a babysitter or another family member or a daycare facility.

Just what is “right of first refusal?”

This means that if your co-parent is unable to care for your child during their designated parenting time, they are required to give you the opportunity to take them before they make other arrangements. Typically, these clauses are reciprocal, so both parents are required to give the other this opportunity.

No two right of first refusal clauses look exactly alike. There are a number of variables. You can detail a number of things, like the following:

  • How much time has to be involved before the clause is invoked (an hour, multiple hours, a day, etc.)?
  • How much notice does the parent who needs child care have to give the other, and how much time does that parent have to respond?
  • How does the other parent have to be notified (for example, phone call, text or email)?
  • Does the parent who has to give up parenting time have to get the chance to make it up?

Both parents have to act in good faith to make this provision work. A parent who intentionally waits until the last minute to text their ex when they’ve known they had to go to an evening event during a week they have their child isn’t acting in good faith. Neither is one who claims they called and got no answer when they didn’t. (That’s why requiring text or email, at least as a back-up, is a good idea.)

By having a detailed right of first refusal clause, you can lessen the chances of such behavior. With experienced legal guidance, you can seek and negotiate an effective right of first refusal clause.