What Is The First Right Of Refusal In A Custody Order?

There are many common complaints that family attorneys hear during a custody battle or divorce, but fortunately, there's a solution. Incorporating guidelines for the first right of refusal helps alleviate arguments regarding things like children being left with sitters or family members when the other parent is available for custodial time. Learn more about how the first right of refusal can help you and your ex reduce conflict so you can parent peacefully.

How does the first right of refusal work?

The first right of refusal, sometimes called the right of first refusal, helps maximize custodial time for each parent. When one parent has commitments that interfere with parenting time, such as work, school, or social functions, the other parent is legally entitled to visitation with the children.

However, that doesn't mean you can't do things like run to the gas station while your partner watches the kids, though. First right of refusal usually covers long periods of time, such as an 8-hour stint or overnight commitments. For example, your divorce attorney may ask the judge for a clause that gives you extra custodial time with the children whenever the other parent works outside of the home. You have the option to turn down this extra time if you are unavailable.

What happens if your ex refuses to honor the first right of refusal?

Consequences are possible for exes who ignore the first right of refusal, but it depends on what your divorce decree or custody order says. If you don't have a decree in place yet, be sure to talk to a family attorney about creating one. This helps protect you if an issue arises, and a judge may even find your ex in contempt for ignoring your rights. For example, if a judge decides your ex has willingly violated a court order, consequences for contempt can range from a warning to fines or jail time. Your ex may even lose some visitation time or other custodial rights if contempt continues.

Many parents want to spend as much time as possible with their kids, especially after a divorce or breakup. Sadly, former partners can be vindictive, and they may not willingly grant the first right of refusal without a court order in place. If you anticipate co-parenting issues, schedule a consultation with a family attorney who will fight to help you maximize your visitation time. Contact a divorce attorney for more information.