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What is a co-parenting right of first refusal?

On Behalf of | Jun 17, 2024 | Parenting Plans

Depending on a family’s unique needs and priorities, the concept of “right of first refusal” can play an important role in fostering a healthy co-parenting relationship. This legal provision, often included in parenting plans or custody agreements, says that one parent must offer the other parent the opportunity to care for their child before seeking alternative childcare options. 

Only if the other parent is unavailable or declines the offer – or the situation at hand meets the criteria in the agreement that constitutes an exception to the rule – can the parent in need of help seek third-party care, such as a babysitter, nanny or daycare.

How it works

Imagine a scenario where Parent A has parenting time for their child for a weekend, but an unexpected work commitment arises. Instead of immediately arranging for a babysitter, Parent A must first contact Parent B to see if they can take care of the child (unless the timing of the arrangement allows for an exception to this procedure). 

This process helps to ensure that a couple’s child spends maximum time with their parents — not sitters. This approach can also help to prevent situations where one parent might feel excluded or less involved in the day-to-day upbringing of their child.

With that being said, while a right of first refusal has numerous benefits, it’s not without its challenges. Parents must be willing to communicate effectively and act in the child’s best interests, even if it means putting aside personal differences. Additionally, this clause requires a clear definition of the circumstances under which it applies, such as specific time frames or events. Without clear guidelines, disputes may arise about what constitutes a valid reason for invoking the right of first refusal.

If you have questions about this kind of arrangement, don’t hesitate to seek personalized guidance. Doing so may empower you to make informed decisions on behalf of your own family.