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Is right of first refusal part of your custody order?

Your time with your children is precious, and you may be understandably anxious about how your pending divorce will affect that time. While California family law courts prefer parents to agree upon the most equitable joint custody arrangement possible, it is not a given. In fact, you may have concerns that your spouse will fight for full custody, leaving you with chunks of time scattered over the weeks.

You may not be aware of an option available to you to increase the amount of time you can spend with your children even if you do not obtain joint custody. By including a first refusal clause in your custody settlement, you will open more opportunities to be with your children by capitalizing on the times when your spouse cannot be with them.

The benefits of including a first refusal clause

The right of first refusal is not automatically part of a custody agreement but is an option for which you can fight. It requires your spouse to call you first if he or she is unable to be with the children and needs someone to look after them. This may be for a week-long vacation, a date or for afterschool care. You may step in if your child has an appointment, such as a medical checkup, and your ex-spouse cannot take off work.

Instead of sending the children to daycare, their grandparents or a babysitter, your spouse must contact you first to see if you are available. Some of the benefits of adding a right of first refusal clause in your custody settlement include the following and others:

  • You will have more time with your children.
  • Your children gain additional opportunities to bond with you.
  • Your children are not left with hired caregivers unless you are unavailable to watch them.
  • You or your spouse save money on childcare.

Of course, you will have to consider the logical questions, such as how much notice you will need to be able to accept the additional time with your children. There is also the travel distance between you and your ex-spouse.

However, without including such a provision in your child custody arrangement, you may miss valuable chances to be with your children when they are not with their other parent. Additionally, a first refusal clause in your custody orders may protect your rights if the time ever arises where your parenting privileges are in dispute.

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