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Understanding the right of first refusal

For many divorced parents in Indiana, it’s important to spend as much time with their children as possible. The “right of first refusal” is a parenting plan clause that can help divorced parents do just that.

What is the right of first refusal?

The right of first refusal is a provision in a parenting plan that requires the parent with custody to offer all child care opportunities to the other parent first. That means that if the custodial parent has a doctor’s appointment or an event that they need to go to, they are not allowed to drop the child off with a friend or a babysitter before first checking with the other parent.

Benefits of the right of first refusal

The right of first refusal allows a child of divorced parents to spend more time with both of their parents, regardless of the child custody arrangement. If a parenting plan was unequal, the parent with less custody time may be eager to spend extra time with their child. This agreement may also lead to better communication between parents and a healthier co-parenting relationship.

Drawbacks of the right of first refusal

The right of first refusal can be difficult in situations where divorced parents are not getting along with each other. Requesting changes to the parenting schedule could become contentious, and one parent may not want to make accommodations for the other parent’s activities. It’s important to understand that the right of first refusal is simply an opportunity, not an obligation.

Avoiding conflict over the right of first refusal

Divorced parents may be able to avoid conflict by agreeing on a regular system for facilitating the right of first refusal. For example, parents may decide ahead of time what the best communication method is for requesting changes to the parenting schedule. Parents may also agree to communicate about possible schedule changes as early as possible.