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What Does “First Refusal for Childcare” Mean in an Illinois Parenting Plan?

 Posted on March 27, 2023 in Family Law

Kane County Family Law AttornyIf you are getting divorced and you share children with your soon-to-be ex, you will be expected to fill out a parenting plan and submit it to the court for approval. The parenting plan is the document that describes how you and the other parent will raise your child as divorced co-parents.

The parenting plan is extensive, and parents will need to answer questions about how significant decisions will be made, who will take care of the children on what days, how children will be transported between the two homes, and much more. One parenting plan element that many people have questions about is the right of first refusal. In this blog, we will discuss the right of first refusal and how you can use this important right to benefit your co-parenting relationship as well as your relationship with your child.

The Right of First Refusal

When parents fill out their parenting plan, they will need to determine a parenting time schedule. Parenting time is when a parent supervises a child and provides for the child's needs. You may decide that one parent will have the child during the week while the other parent has the child during the weekend. Or, you may alternate weeks. Every parenting time schedule is slightly different because the parents and the child's needs are different.

There may come a time when a parent cannot fulfill their parenting time responsibility. For example, a parent may travel out of town for a work event or take a vacation without the children. The right of first refusal says that a parent must ask the other parent to watch the children if he or she cannot. For example, if a mother is supposed to have a child on a Friday night, but she has to work late, she must ask the child's father to watch the children first. If the father declines the extra parenting time, the mother can ask a babysitter, grandparent, or other individual to watch the children for her.

Essentially, the right of first refusal gives parents the opportunity to pick up extra parenting time when the assigned parent cannot fulfill their parenting time obligation. This can be a great way for divorce co-parents to spend more time with their children.

You and the child's other parent will need to decide when and how the right of first refusal applies. For example, does the right of first refusal apply for an absence of only a few hours? If the right of first refusal does apply, who will be responsible for picking up or dropping off the child? These are issues that you will need to work out with the child's other parent when you create your parenting plan.

If you and the child's other parent are unable to reach an agreement about the right of first refusal, the parenting time schedule, the allocation of parental responsibilities, or any other issues in the parenting plan, the court may ask you to attend mediation. If you still cannot reach a decision during mediation, the court will step in and make a decision that is in the child's best interests.

Contact a Geneva Family Law Attorney

If you are a parent who is getting divorced, our Kane County family law attorneys can help you negotiate the terms of your parenting plan, establish child support, divide shared property, and handle other divorce concerns. Call 630-844-8781 for a confidential consultation.




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