After your divorce proceedings conclude, you and your ex-spouse may have to settle into a co-parenting arrangement. These arrangements typically define each parent’s parenting and non-parenting time. During your parenting time, you have the legal authority to make a wide range of decisions. The same is true for your ex-spouse during his or her parenting time.
When you are not available to care for your children during your scheduled parenting time, you generally have the option of finding childcare. According to Psychology Today, good childcare may come from a professional service, friend, romantic partner or relative. If your custody agreement has a right of first refusal clause, though, you have fewer options.
Ask your ex first
A right of first refusal provision requires you to ask your ex to care for the kids before you ask anyone else. That is, only if he or she is unavailable or willing to watch your children can you find someone else to do the job. Of course, your ex must offer you the same opportunity during his or her parenting time.
Consider the reason
If your former spouse has requested a right of first refusal clause, it is important to consider the reason for the request. Your ex simply may want the opportunity to spend more time with your children. On the other hand, he or she may be trying to interfere with your life or exert too much control over you.
You probably have no legal obligation to include a right of first refusal clause in your custody agreement. Ultimately, though, if your former spouse wants you to insert one, it is critical to understand how it may limit your parental authority.