Sharing custody of your child—now formally known as parental responsibilities under Illinois law, can be challenging under the best of circumstances. Effective co-parenting requires communication, cooperation, and, in many cases, letting a few little things go in order to facilitate a more agreeable situation.
Protecting Parenting Time
When you are a divorced, separated, or unmarried parent, you most likely treasure the time you get to spend with your children. While this may be especially true if your parenting time is less than that of the other parent, most parents recognize that time with their child is special and should be treated as such. The realities of life, however, often create additional difficulties for a divorced parent. For example, what if a PTA meeting or other school-related function falls on a night when your children are supposed to be with you?
Your children are important, of course, but that does not mean you need to turn down every invitation during your parenting time. There is nothing wrong with calling a sitter from time to time so that you can get together with friends. Depending upon the circumstances of your co-parenting arrangement, you may even offer the other parent additional time with your children instead of calling a friend or family member.
Right of First Refusal
In many cases, offering the other parent additional parenting time is completely optional, although time with both parents is usually good for the children. However, Illinois law provides that a parenting plan—either negotiated by the parents or ordered by the court—may require a parent needing a sitter to first offer the extra time to the other parent. Such a provision in a parenting plan is called the right of first refusal.
If and when the right of first refusal is included in a parenting arrangement, there are several considerations that must be addressed. You and the other parent—or the court—must decide:
- The circumstances that will require the offer of additional parenting time, such as how long care is needed and the amount of prior notice;
- How communication will be handled;
- Who is responsible for transportation; and
- Any other relevant factors to facilitate cooperation.
Whether or not your parenting plan includes the right of first refusal, helping your child maintain a healthy relationship with the other parent is an important element of successful co-parenting. To learn more about parenting plans and your legal options, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 to schedule a free consultation with Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C., today.