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What is the right of first refusal? 

A child custody arrangement can have many different clauses that determine how the relationship will work. One of these is known as the right of first refusal. This can be granted to one of the co-parents.

Essentially, what it means is that that parent needs to be contacted first if the other co-parent needs someone to watch the children. For instance, imagine that one parent has custody and gets called into work. They decide to hire a babysitter or let one of their in-laws watch the kids. If the other parent has the right of first refusal, then they can legally say that they are going to watch the child instead.

Why is this important?

This is important on a few different levels, one of which is simply that the other parent may want more custody time. They would value that extra time with their own child. If they aren’t busy but simply aren’t with the child because it isn’t their turn on the custody schedule, they may enjoy getting to have custody for even a few hours. They would certainly rather that the child is with one of their actual parents rather than a random babysitter or an extended family member.

It can also be important in situations where one parent is not so sure about the other person’s judgment. For instance, maybe you don’t think that your ex will pick a babysitter that you’d feel comfortable leaving your child with. The right of first refusal means that you could ensure that the child is always with you instead of with a babysitter that you don’t trust.

This is just one part of a complicated child custody situation that you need to be familiar with. Take the time to look into all of your legal options when setting up your plan.