When co-parents share time with their children after divorce, they may get more one-on-one time than they did when they were married. However, they still may never feel like they have enough time with their child – no matter how equitable the arrangement is.
That’s one reason why many put a “right of first refusal” clause in their parenting plan. Besides giving parents a little more time with their children, it also helps them minimize the amount of time their kids spend with third-party caregivers.
What is right of first refusal?
It typically means that if one parent is unable to care for their child during a portion of their designated parenting time, they’re required to contact their co-parent to see if they can care for them before they get a third party to do it.
These situations can range from learning that you have to take one of your parents for a medical procedure on a Saturday morning a few days before your child is scheduled to spend the weekend with you to an emergency situation at work where you need to leave for a few hours on an evening your child is with you.
What details should you address?
Typically, the more detail you include, the less likely you are to have conflicts and confusion when one of these situations occurs. These details can include:
- How soon one co-parent needs to notify the other of a caregiving issue (unless it’s an emergency)
- How the notification needs to be made (for example, text, call, email and/or parenting app)
- If the time you lose with your child will be made up later and if trading time is an option
For example, if you learn you need to go to a wedding on a Saturday you’re scheduled to have your child, it might be easier to just trade weekends with your co-parent.
With sound legal guidance, you can work out this and other provisions in your parenting plan in a way that’s fair to both you and your co-parent and keeps the focus on what’s in the best interests of your child.