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What is the right of first refusal in child custody arrangements?

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If you are currently in the middle of a divorce or the process of making child custody arrangements, you have probably heard a lot of new terminology. Right of first refusal is one of these terms. For many, it has a negative-sounding connotation, but the statute is actually a good thing for both parents who are divorcing.

Some child custody agreements have terms that are "black-and-white," outlining the specific days and occasions each parent will share with the child. As we all know, however, life is not always so accommodating. Sometimes circumstances arise in which one parent cannot fulfill his or her regularly scheduled parenting time. Extended business trips or emergency situations are two examples of such circumstances.

If the child custody agreement features the right of first refusal, the parent who cannot fulfill the regular parenting time must offer the other parent the opportunity to care for the child before seeking an alternative provider. The other parent can then choose to refuse the offer or accept the chance to spend more time with the child. It is not mandatory that the other parent accept the offer; it merely requires the first parent to make the offer.

The right of first refusal can extend to one parent or both parents and when used correctly, can enhance child custody agreements. This is especially so when either or both parents want as much time as possible with the child. Illinois courts support the right of first refusal as long as it is supports the best interests of the child. Speaking with a family law attorney can provide you with more detailed information about the benefits of the right of first refusal.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, "Sec. 602.3. Care of minor children; right of first refusal," accessed April 07, 2016

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