A Right of First Refusal Clause Can Protect Family Time
Many divorced parents are distraught about the limited amount of time they spend with their children. A right of first refusal clause can help fix that problem.
The value of parental time
Research has shown that children really benefit from time spent with their parents.
Healthy infants form an “attachment” to their parents, and children of divorce can struggle to form a bond if they only see one parent sporadically. Children that do not form healthy relationships with their parents can have difficulty regulating feelings, have social difficulties, and struggle with attention problems.
Some parents also have strong feelings about how their children are being raised. In the TV show Mad Men, the young Sally Draper cuts off a chunk of her hair while she is spending time with a babysitter.
Her parents are divorced and her mom is furious that Sally’s Dad, Don Draper, hired a babysitter on the one weekend Don was spending with Sally. The mom, Betty, was very upset that her daughter was acting out while being with a stranger. Many parents feel the same way, and they would prefer to take care of their children rather than leaving them to a babysitter.
Some laws explicitly protect parental supervision. Utah, for example, provides in its advisory guidelines law for parent-time schedules that parental care “shall be presumed to be a better form of care for the child than surrogate care and the court shall encourage the parties to cooperate in allowing the noncustodial parent, if willing and able to transport the children, to provide the child care.”
What is “a right of first refusal clause?”
A right of first refusal clause child custody requirement basically requires one parent to first offer the other parent time before hiring a babysitter.
So if a father has custody and is going on vacation without the child, then he would need to first offer to let the child stay with the mother before he hires a babysitter. In some cases, a right of first refusal clause could force an adjustment to a custody schedule.
If a parent has custody over the weekend and then takes a weekend job that requires child care, the parent might have to instead change the custody calendar.
How does a right of first refusal clause look?
Consider this right of first refusal clause sample: “Each parent shall have the right of first refusal to provide care for the child if the other parent must find alternative care.” That is a rather simple example. Another popular detail is adding a duration. For most parents, it will not make much sense to call the other parent every time a babysitter is needed to watch the kid while the parent runs a few errands.
Perhaps the right of first refusal would only apply for periods of four hours or longer. The clause may also require that the other parent pick up and then return the child if that parent wants to exercise his or her rights under the first right of first refusal clause.
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