Child custody cases can become extremely complicated. They are problematic by their very nature. Changing family dynamics is difficult enough, but when children are involved, it creates entirely new levels of heartache and frustration. Divorce often means losing precious time with kids. Including a Right of First Refusal clause to the custody agreement can help smooth this difficult transition.
First Right of Refusal Overview
There are many variables to consider when trying to map out a custody agreement. Parents have careers which demand a great deal of their schedule. Some attend college while working. Others may have other family responsibilities such as elder care. There are also unpredictable emergencies that crop up no matter how carefully parents try to prepare.
Courts across the country agree that spending time with parents helps children grow mentally and physically. By the same token, time away can be emotionally detrimental. It is crucial to work out a custody contract that both parents can not only agree on but adhere to. This is for the health and well-being of everyone involved.
Many divorcing couples include a Right of First Refusal clause in their parenting plans as a safety net. This stipulation means that when one parent is called to work unexpectedly while tending to the child, the other parent must be offered that time slot before family members or sitters are contacted.
Benefits and Hindrances
The Right of First Refusal clause, when added to the custody agreement by the parents, can be extremely beneficial. It can also cause many problems and resentment when it is court ordered. In either case, many parents feel that this type of stipulation inhibits the child’s relationship with other family members.
If one of the parents remarries, the Right of First Refusal can interfere in the step-parent’s relationship with the child. Another problematic area is when there is little to no notice of the schedule change. If the absence is to occur on short notice, there may not be enough time to offer the other parent the time slot. It may not be enough time for him or her to accept.
Voluntary and Court Ordered Clauses
In all reality, it is not necessary to add this clause when the parents can agree to work it out themselves. It is a simple matter to offer the child’s time to the other parent. This requires a great deal of respect, patience, and understanding between the parents.
It is always in the child’s best interest if the parents can handle such situations without the necessity of court interference. This is not generally the easiest task for two individuals with a lot of resentment between them. There may be no productive communication between parents. The negative aspects of divorce may overshadow any positives. The court may then be forced to mediate the situation.
Brian F. Abramson is a skilled Family Law attorney. Contact him today to discuss the pros and cons of a Right of Refusal clause. Mr. Abramson is available for a free phone consultation.