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Right of first refusal expands parental responsibility

Divorcing parents face many challenges. Of course, the most difficult adjustment may be having time with one's children limited to a set schedule. This can be especially frustrating if the parents do not share equal parental responsibility but instead end up with an arrangement where one parent has custody and the other has time-sharing rights. When this is the case, many parents do not realize there is an option they can request in their custody arrangements that may offer them additional time with the children.

The right of first refusal is not required by Florida law, but parents can ask for such a stipulation in their court orders. This clause requires the custodial parent to offer parenting time to their former partner before seeking the services of a babysitter, day care provider or other relative. In other words, if the parent who has custody is not able to spend the time with the children, the other parent must be contacted first to take the children if he or she is able.

This clause in a custody settlement allows noncustodial parents the opportunity to spend additional time with their children instead of having the children left in the care of a babysitter. In some cases, the right of refusal applies only when the custodial parent must seek alternative child care for longer than a certain number of hours. However, other agreements stipulate that the custodial parent must contact the other parent first no matter how short the time the children will need care.

Those in Florida who want such an agreement included in their parenting agreements must specifically request it when negotiating the terms of parental responsibility. It may help to have a strong legal advocate during this process. Having an experienced attorney can ensure one's parental rights are protected.

Source: liveabout.com, "Right of First Refusal Clause", Cathy Meyer, Accessed on May 12, 2018

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  • The Florida Bar| Board Certified | Marital & Family Law
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