Understanding the “Right of First Refusal” in Illinois
In Illinois, divorcing parents who wish to share parental responsibilities and parenting time of their children must draft a document called a Parental Allocation Agreement or parenting plan. This agreement describes the official allocation of parental responsibilities, formerly called custody, and parenting time, formerly called visitation, between the two parents.
Typically, parenting agreements also contain information about how the child will be raised, how major decisions about the child’s life will be made, and provisions regarding any future proposed changes to the shared parenting arrangement. All Illinois parenting agreements must include a provision describing how “the right of first refusal” will apply to the parents. Read on to learn about this important provision as well as how the right of first refusal can affect the way you share parenting time of your child after an Illinois divorce.
Maximizing Each Parent’s Parenting Time
Except for in cases involving child abuse or other special circumstances, Illinois courts encourage parents to spend as much time with their children as possible. Many studies show that children are healthier and happier when both of their parents are actively involved in their life. In order to help parents maximize their parenting time in situations involving divorced or unmarried parents, Illinois parenting agreements include a provision called the right of first refusal. This provision states that when a parent cannot fulfill his or her parenting time obligation, they must contact the other parent to see if the other parent wishes to have the child stay with them.
For example, if a mother is scheduled to have her children on a certain weekend but something comes up which makes her unavailable during that weekend, she must contact the children’s father to see if he can watch the children during her absence before contacting alternative childcare like a babysitter. Put another way, the right of first refusal gives parents the right to “refuse” extra parenting time before a third party is asked to watch the children.
Is a Right of First Refusal Provision Required?
There are several items which an Illinois parenting agreement must contain. One of these is a description of how the right of first refusal will apply to the parents creating the agreement. Parents can agree that this right applies in every single circumstance that a parent cannot fulfill his or her assigned parenting time, or parents can specify when the right of first refusal will apply. For example, many parents decide that the right of first refusal does not apply for short-term parental absences of less than a day but does apply for longer absences. Other parents decide that the right of first refusal does not ever apply and that there are no situations in which a parent must contact the other before finding childcare.
Contact a Wheaton Family Law Attorney
Creating a productive and cooperative co-parenting strategy after getting divorced can be quite challenging. For sound legal guidance regarding parenting agreements, the allocation of parental responsibility, child support, and more, contact an experienced DuPage County divorce lawyer. Call 630-665-7300 to schedule a confidential consultation at MKFM Law today.