Understanding the Right of First Refusal
When a couple with children gets divorced in Illinois, they are required to create a parenting plan. A parenting plan is a formal document that lays out each parent’s responsibilities and rights regarding the child and provides a foundation for ongoing, cooperative parenting. If the parents cannot come up with a workable plan on their own, the court may do for them.
Under Illinois law, there are over a dozen considerations that must be included or addressed in a parenting plan, including things such as a parenting time schedule and the child’s permanent address for school enrollment purposes. Other elements can also be included at the discretion of the parents or the court, including the right of first refusal. If the right of first refusal has been included in your parenting plan, you need to know what it means.
Bonus Parenting Time
For the purposes of a parenting plan, the right of first refusal applies when a parent needs childcare during his or her allotted parenting time. Depending on how the right is structured in your plan, the right of first refusal could apply when one parent has meeting some evening or it could be saved for longer periods, such as an all-day event on a weekend when the parent was supposed to have parenting time. If the right of first refusal is invoked, the parent who needs child care must let the other parent know and give the other parent the chance to have extra parenting time.
Depending on your existing parenting time schedule and other obligations, you may be excited at the prospect of more quality time with your child. However, the right of first refusal does not automatically mean that you must accept and take your children every time your ex offers. The right is one of “first refusal,” which means that you have the freedom to turn down the offer for any reason, including no reason at all, if you so choose.
Be Careful of Refusals
While you are under no obligation to accept additional parenting time when it is offered, it is important for you to see the bigger picture as well. Consistently turning down offers from the other parent without a good reason could be used to portray you as unwilling to strengthen your relationship with your child. This could be a problem if you have been trying to increase your share of parenting time. If, on the other hand, you have three or four days of parenting time every week already, your refusals might not be seen as unreasonable.
Consult With a Kane County Family Lawyer
If you have concerns or questions about the right of first refusal and whether it is appropriate for your situation, contact an experienced Geneva parental responsibilities attorney. Call 630-232-9700 for a confidential consultation at The Law Offices of Douglas B. Warlick & Associates today.