Right of First Refusal – When It Doesn’t Work

After a divorce or separation, there will be a lot of changes for everyone involved.  The parents will need to adjust their parenting techniques to account for the fact that they no longer parent in the same household, and may even have different rules and expectations in their respective households.  The children will have to adjust to going between two houses and maybe having new step-parents or step-siblings.  The custody order entered will need to provide for visitation for both parents.  The aim of a custody and visitation order should be to maximize the time that each parent can spend and bond with the children, while keeping the children’s schedule stable.  Parents have a lot of leeway when crafting an agreed visitation schedule, one of which is to include the “right of first refusal” in a custody order.  The provision states that when one parent is exercising parenting time, if he or she is unable to exercise that time, that parent must first offer the right to care for the child during the period of unavailability to the other parent instead of a third party, such as a grandparent or babysitter.  For example, if the father is exercising visitation but needs to go into work for a few hours, she would first need to call the father and ask if he wants to watch the children before calling a babysitter or making other arrangements.  This type of provision can be a great way to help maximize the ability of the parents to spend extra time with the children, but it does not work in every case.

One of the most common situations when this provision will not work is when the parents are not able to effectively communicate.  If you and your former partner or spouse are always arguing and cannot seem to exchange even a simple text without bickering, this provision may not work for you.  These provisions require a lot of open communication and flexibility, so without the ability to talk to each other, the provision will not be workable.

Another common reason it will not work is when the parties live too far apart. It would not make sense, for example, for the parties to have this provision if they lived several hours apart.  The children would end up spending more time traveling than spending quality time with the other parent.

Finally, if there have been issues of violence in the past between the parents, this will not be appropriate.  Again, this requires cooperation and flexibility, and when there is an imbalance of power between the parties, it is not advisable to have such fluid terms in a custody order.

Click here to subscribe

If you have questions about creative solutions for your custody order, call us today.  We can talk with you about your children and your options.

Are you interested in seeking an annulment? If so, contact Williams Law Group, LLC right away. Our family law attorneys will review your case to determine if an annulment is an option. If it is, we will guide you through the process and ensure you make the best decisions for your future. Call our office at (908) 738-8512, email us atinfo@awilliamslawgroup.com, or contact us through our confidential online form to schedule a consultation

Download our Free Resource Guide today!

Let us know how we can help
Contact Our New Jersey Family Lawyers Today