When a couple with children elects to end their marriage, they will need to create a parenting plan for the future. A parenting plan is a formal agreement that specifies the rights and responsibilities of each parent regarding the child, serving as a foundation for the couple’s co-parenting efforts. Illinois law provides more than a dozen considerations that a parenting plan must address, such as the child’s primary address for school enrollment purposes and a schedule for each party’s parenting time. In addition, a parenting plan may include other, optional provisions including the right of first refusal. If your parenting agreement gives you the right of first refusal, you need to fully understand what that right entails.
Additional Parenting Time Opportunities
When it is part of a parenting plan, the right of first refusal may be invoked when one parent needs alternate arrangements for child care during his or her normal parenting time. Depending upon how the right of first refusal is structured, it could apply when a parent has an evening obligation, or the right may be reserved for longer periods of needed care—such a weekend-long business trip on a parent’s scheduled weekend with the child. The right of first refusal, when it applies, requires the parent needing alternate care to notify the other parent and offer him or her the opportunity to care for the child.
Understand Your Options
Depending on the amount of parent time you currently receive and your other scheduling considerations, the opportunity to spend extra time with your child may be very exciting for you. The inclusion of the right of first refusal in your parent plan, however, does not obligate you to accept every offer. The requirement only pertains to the offer; you are free to refuse any opportunity that you cannot or do not wish to accept.
Be Exceeding Careful
While you have no legal obligation to accept every offer of extra parenting time, you should be aware of the entirety of the situation if you regularly refuse additional parenting time. Doing so consistently and without good reason—despite being within your legal rights—could be interpreted as a lack of willingness to promote a stronger parent-child relationship. For example, if your current parenting plan gives you just a few days each month with your children, you may not feel that this is enough. If you are considering petitioning the court to modify your parenting arrangement, consistently refusing additional parenting time may not help your case. On the other hand, if your existing arrangement gives you three or four days per week with your child, refusing extra time is not likely to be much of a problem.
Speak With a Family Lawyer
To learn more about the right of first refusal and how to incorporate it into your parenting plan, contact an experienced family law attorney in St. Charles. Call Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. at 630-377-7770 for a confidential consultation at our office today.