When a couple who has children together decides to get divorced, they will need to develop a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a document which outlines each parent’s rights and responsibilities regarding the child and serves as the cornerstone on which the couple’s ongoing co-parenting relationships will be built. According to Illinois law there are more than a dozen considerations that must be addressed in a parenting plan including things like the child’s permanent address for the purposes of school enrollment and a parenting time schedule for each parent. There are other, optional elements that can be included in a parenting plan as well, including the right of first refusal. If your parenting plan provides you with the right of first refusal, it is important to understand what that means.
Extra Parenting Time Opportunities
The right of first refusal, when included in a parenting plan, applies to situations in which a parent requires alternate child care arrangements during his or her scheduled parenting time. Depending upon the established terms, the right of first refusal could be invoked when a parent has an evening meeting, for example, or it may be reserved for longer stretches, such as a full-day event on a day when that parent was supposed to “have” the children. If the right of first refusal applies, the parent needing child care must notify the other parent and offer the other parent the opportunity to care for child—essentially offering the other parent extra parenting time.
Know Your Options
Depending on your current parenting time schedule and other personal obligations, you may be delighted by the chance to spend more quality time with your children. The right of first refusal, however, does not mean that you must accept and care for your children every time the other parent asks. The established right is that of “first refusal” which means that you are free to refuse the opportunity for whatever reasons you may have.
Proceed With Caution
It is important for you to be careful and aware of the totality of the situation if you decide to refuse extra time with your children. While you are not legally obligated to accept every offer of additional parenting time, consistent refusals without justification could reflect poorly on your willingness and desire to foster a healthy relationship with your children. For example, if your parenting time is currently limited to just a few days per month and you are looking to increase the time you get with your children, regularly refusing extra parenting time will not help your case. Of course, if you already enjoy parenting time three or four days per week or more, your refusals may not seem unreasonable.
Speak With a Family Lawyer
If you have questions about including the right of first refusal in your parenting plan, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney. Call Abear Law Offices at 630-904-3033 for a confidential consultation at any one of our five convenient office locations.