Most parents who get a divorce in Illinois settle on a schedule for sharing parental responsibilities for their child. When the divorce first happens, courts will help parents draft a parenting plan known as a Parental Allocation Agreement.
These agreements outline the duties and responsibilities of each parent, including which home a child will spend some or all of their time in, special arrangements for holidays and other occasions, and decision-making for things such as the child’s education, religious instruction, and healthcare.
Parenting plans can also contain a provision regarding a concept called “the right of first refusal.” In this post, we will discuss what the right of first refusal is, how it is meant to help children, and how it will affect your responsibilities as a parent.
What is the Right of First Refusal?
The right of first refusal is a provision requiring custodial parents who must be away from their children during their scheduled parenting time to contact the other parent and ask if they want to care for the child before finding outside childcare. For example, if a mother wants to go for a night out with her friends, she must contact the father of the child before asking her own parents or a babysitter to watch the child. This gives the other parent–the father in our hypothetical scenario–the right to refuse more parenting time before someone else is given the opportunity to take care of the child.
The right of first refusal is essentially a measure introduced to encourage parents to spend more time with their child. When Illinois courts make decisions regarding parental responsibilities and parenting time, they are primarily concerned with addressing the best interests of the child. Extensive sociological research shows that children do best when both of their parents are involved in their lives, and Illinois law has tried to reflect this.
Do I Have to Include a Right of First Refusal Provision?
If you are sharing custodial responsibilities of your children, it is worth considering including the right of first refusal in your parenting agreement. However, a right of first refusal may not be necessary if it is not in your children’s best interest, or if you or the other parent are not interested in exercising this right. If you do include the right of first refusal, you have discretion in applying it in a way that makes sense for you. Some parents want the right of first refusal in every conceivable situation, while other parents will only want it when a parental absence extends for longer than several hours. It may even make sense to include a right of first refusal for one parent but not the other.
Contact a Wheaton, IL Parental Responsibilities Attorney
The attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group are committed to helping parents create parenting agreements that benefit themselves and their children. We will work with you to represent your interests and preferences, and help you understand your options under Illinois law. Schedule a free consultation with one of our DuPage County family lawyers by calling us today at 630-871-1002.