Parenting Time And The Right Of First Refusal — What You Need To Know

The right for one parent to care for the children when the other parent is unavailable during their parenting time to care for the children has developed over time into an actual section of the Illinois Law which provides that, “if a party intends to leave the minor child with a substitute child-care provider for a significant period of time. That party must first offer the other party an opportunity to personally care for their minor child” Oftentimes parents would incorporate this provision into their Joint Parenting Agreements and agree amongst themselves what that time period would be that would invoke the right of first refusal.

How the Right of First Refusal Works

  1. the length and kind of child-care requirements invoking the right of first refusal;
  2. notification to the other parent and procedure and time frame for a response;
  3. transportation requirements; and
  4. any other action necessary to protect and promote the best interest of the children.

A court may very well make a finding that it is in the child’s best interests to spend time with their parents, as opposed to a babysitter or other care provider if the other parent is available — hence the right of first refusal. However, there are also situations when the parents have a very difficult and strained relationship and the courts determine that it is best to minimize the interactions between the parents so they do not grant either parent the right of first refusal — in this case, the parents have their specific parenting time and if they are unavailable they are charged with the responsibility to find care for their children.

Right of First Refusal is Not Automatic

Important to Detail Notification Requirements

Choose a Reasonable Time Period

In addition, in an emergency-type situation, the right of first refusal may not be practical. That is, if something unexpected comes up, the party exercising parenting time may not have enough time to reach out to the other parent to see if they are available. However, a parent cannot use that excuse and it must truly be an emergent situation.

In order for the right of first refusal to work best for the children and avoid last-minute changes and arrangements, the parents should let each other know about plans as soon as possible or as soon as they know they will have a conflict. This will allow plans to be made and the children can be made aware that they will be with the other parent and can be a very positive situation when the children see their parents communicating and being able to get along in such situations. It is when parenting exchanges are tense and full of conflict that a right of first refusal may not be best for the children as it can increase stress and tension which would not be in their best interest.

An Experienced Lawyer Can Help You with Right of First Refusal in Your Parenting Order


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