What is a Right of First Refusal?

According to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a Right of First Refusal relates to when a party intends to leave the minor child or children with a substitute child-care provider for a significant period of time.  In that event, that party must first offer the other party an opportunity to personally care for the minor child or children.

If parenting time is allowed for both parties and neither party has any restrictions on his or her parenting time, absent agreement, a judge may decide to grant a Right of First Refusal (if it aligns with the child’s best interest) to one or both parties.

There are many factors to consider when including a Right of First Refusal provision in your custody agreement.  One is the length and kind of child-care requirements that would invoke the Right of First Refusal – for instance, typically sending a child to school or daycare while a party works would not invoke the Right of First Refusal.  Further, a child spending time with extended family may technically be for a time period that would otherwise invoke the Right of First Refusal, but should not necessarily trigger it.  Another is what amount of advance notice and type is required to invoke the Right of First Refusal.   Additionally, the parties must address the transportation requirements for getting the child(ren) to the other parent once the Right of First Refusal is invoked.

Each family’s situation is unique and requires special considerations and a customized agreement that works best for you, your co-parent, and your children when it comes to any Right of First Refusal provision.   Please contact us to learn more about this and other matters involving parenting time and decision-making.