A custody order is a directive approved by the family court that outlines the details of child custody including physical custody, visitation, possession, and other details pertaining to co-parenting when parents have divorced.
One stipulation that child custody lawyers can have included in the custody order is Right of First Refusal for times when outside circumstances interfere with visitation and possession schedules.
This clause is overlooked many times; however, lawyers find that it can be helpful in reducing confusion about possession rules and help parents co-parent more effectively.&
What Is Right of First Refusal?
Right of First Refusal is a clause that child custody attorneys may suggest including in child custody orders for parents with pre-planned visitation schedules who lead busy lives to ensure both parents have enough time with their child according to the possession order.
The clause outlines that when a parent is to have possession of the child and suddenly cannot take the child for some reason, the other parent must be notified and given the option to take possession of the child instead.
Right of First Refusal can help in those situations where unexpected circumstances arise and sticking to visitation schedules is not possible.
How Does Right of First Refusal Work?
The purpose of Right of First Refusal is to give parents the option to have more time with their child when the other parent is unable to take possession during scheduled visitation rather than using a babysitter, daycare, or having to rely on some other person to care for the child.
Child custody lawyers also recommend including the clause because it simplifies inconvenient schedules that require parents to slightly modify times on the visitation schedule due to work or other commitments so that the child can be transferred at convenient times.
To exercise a parent’s Right of First Refusal, the parent scheduled to take possession of the child must contact the other parent upon realizing they have a conflict and offer for them to instead take possession before considering other options.
The parent being offered can then take possession of the child for all or part of the other parent’s scheduled visitation period if they can and are able to do that.
If the offered parent is unable to take possession of the child, the parents can then collectively agree on a suitable solution so there is no concern over who will be caring for the child and where that will be done.
When Should Right of First Refusal Be Exercised?
To comply with a custody order that includes Right of First Refusal, lawyers point out that it should be offered in any instance where the visitation schedule needs to be temporarily altered.
The most common way it gets exercised is in lieu of daycare when a parent is not available to take possession of the child until after work.
Other times when Right of First Refusal should be offered are when a parent has personal plans on their usual visitation day or weekend; when the parent in possession is unable to take the child to a doctor’s appointment, or any other time when the parent scheduled to take possession is unable to do so.
Add A Right of First Refusal Clause To Custody Orders
Custody attorneys understand that visitation schedules can get complicated, as today’s kids are just as busy as their parents.
One way to maintain control of where the children are at all times and who they will be with is through a Right of First Refusal clause.
With a Right of First Refusal clause written into the custody order, effective co-parenting can be flexible and stress-free!
Reynaldo Garza, III - Attorney at Law
680 East St. Charles St, Suite 600
Brownsville TX 78520