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Why some parenting plans have right of first refusal clauses

Ending any marriage can be stressful. If you have young children, though, choosing to divorce your spouse may bring up a host of concerns. After all, you want what is best for your kids. Accepting your soon-to-be ex-spouse’s approach to parenting may be difficult, though. 

If you want to co-parent your children after a divorce, you probably also want to draft a comprehensive parenting plan. Because there is no such thing as a standard parenting plan, you likely have wide latitude in deciding which provisions to include. If you want to spend as much time as possible with your kids, you may choose to include a right of first refusal clause. 

Understanding right of first refusal clauses 

A right of first refusal clause does what its name suggests. That is, should the other parent not be available to watch your kids during regular custody time, your spouse must offer you the opportunity to do so first before asking anyone else. If you have flexibility in your schedule, including a first right of refusal provision in your custody agreement may allow you to maximize the time you have with your young ones. 

Negotiating with your spouse 

Good-faith joint custody is often best for children of divorced parents. At first blush, a right of first refusal clause may seem to be a controlling tactic. That is not necessarily the case, though. On the contrary, with a well-written provision, you take some of the pressure off your former partner to always be available to care for your children. If your ex-spouse travels frequently or has other obligations, you give him or her a ready solution for childcare. 

Protecting your kids 

You probably can neither monitor nor modify your ex-partner’s parenting style. A right of first refusal provision, though, may help you protect your kids from objectionable influences. That is, if you take your children when their co-parent cannot watch them, you do not have to worry about an untested babysitter, an unreliable friend or an irresponsible family member doing it. 

Creating a good parenting plan is an effective way to raise good kids in a post-divorce situation. While the terms of your parenting plan are up to you and your former spouse, including a right of first refusal clause may be beneficial.