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A Guide to the Right of First Refusal on Child Care

right of first refusal on child care

When you have children, you want to forge a strong bond—show them you care and will always be there for them.

Unfortunately, divorce can get in the way of the most well-intentioned parents.

If you’re not a custodial parent, you may only see your kid every other weekend. Even if you already have a great connection with your kid, not spending enough time with them can put a wedge in your relationship.

Thankfully, there are ways you can improve your custody agreement to potentially receive more parenting time. For example, a right of first refusal clause could be your solution.

Going through a divorce is difficult. It becomes even more heartbreaking when children are involved.

If you’re struggling with your custody arrangement, continue reading to learn what a right of first refusal means and how it can benefit you and your child.

What Is the Right of First Refusal?

A right of first refusal clause in a child custody agreement means the custodial parent must offer the other parent the opportunity to take care of their child before contacting a third party to babysit.

For example, suppose the custodial parent goes on a weekend trip with their friends. In that case, they must go to the other parent before asking another family member or babysitter.

This clause allows the non-custodial parent to see their children more often. It also helps the parents work out a custody schedule they agree with.

Both parents must agree to add a right of first refusal clause in their custody agreement. If you’ve already created a custody agreement, you can add the clause to your agreement later on. This requires a modification in the court system.

Right of First Refusal Benefits

One of the main benefits of the right of first refusal is it helps both parents navigate their custody agreement.

It also promotes communication between each parent. If both parents are satisfied with the custody agreement, they may have an easier time co-parenting. Even if you don’t have a great relationship with your ex, a right of first refusal clause might improve your parenting dynamic.

While this clause can benefit the parents, it can also be great for the child. While every situation is different, it’s generally important for a child to have a good relationship with both parents. With this clause, the child can forge a better connection with their other parent.

Additionally, your child will benefit from seeing their parents work together and communicate properly instead of arguing.

Right of First Refusal Downsides

The right of first refusal seems like a great idea, and it is for some families.

However, not all parents will find this to be the best solution.

If you and your ex have poor communication skills, this clause may add more stress to your family dynamic. For example, if one parent gives few details about their plans, it may be challenging for the other to schedule the exchange.

Struggling to make the right of first refusal work can strain your relationship with your ex, leaving a negative impression on your child.

How to Make Right of First Refusal Work

Good communication is key to making a right of first refusal clause work. If you and your ex struggle with communication, this could be a good opportunity to improve your skills.

You should talk with your ex about your expectations for the exchanges. For example, you might ask that your ex gives you advance notice to prepare for the exchange. Your ex might ask you to pick up your child by a specific time so their plans aren’t disrupted.

Having these conversations can make abiding by the right of first refusal easier.

One piece of advice is to make a plan for your agreement. Consider sitting down with your ex to ask questions about the right of first refusal.
Some good questions for you and your ex to ask each other include:

  • Generally, how often will situations with the right of first refusal arise?
  • What is the time required for this agreement? Does the clause cover short trips, overnight stays, or both?
  • When an emergency occurs, is it okay for your ex to give your child to a family member before asking you?
  • Can your ex leave your child with extended family members, or do they always have to ask you first?

Contact Steele Family Law Today

Do you need help creating child custody agreements that work for you, your ex, and your child? Are you fighting to get to see your child more often?

If so, a child custody lawyer can help.

Steele Family Law aims to help parents maintain happy and healthy relationships with their children after a divorce. We understand that child custody matters can be stressful, so we’re here to offer counsel and support.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

Author Bio

Greg Steele is CEO and Managing Partner of Steele Family Law, a South Carolina estate planning and family law firm. With years of experience in practicing law, he has zealously represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, including divorce, child custody and support, estate planning, probate, and other legal cases.

Greg received his Juris Doctor from the University of Georgia and is a member of the South Carolina Bar Association. He has received numerous accolades for his work, including being named among Anderson’s Top 20 Under 40 in 2022.

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