Thursday, November 6, 2008

Rights of First Refusal in Custody

Good idea or nightmare waiting to happen? Some couples have included provisions in their custody agreement that the non-custodial parent has a right of first refusal to exercise custody of the children when the custodial parent needs to leave the children with a sitter. The benefit is that the children get to see the other parent more than otherwise provided for in the couple's standard custody arrangement and, generally, the cost of a babysitter is avoided.

The difficult part is trying to figure out when such a right of refusal should kick in and how do you enforce it? This would be a personal preference and depend on your own schedules, the distance between the parents, the children's ages, etc. Make sure you consider that to some extent the non-custodial parent may become privy to far more of the custodial parent's social life than desirable (by either party!). If you agree to a right of first refusal provision for each time you must leave the children with a sitter for, say, longer than three (3) hours, be prepared to have to call the non-custodial parent almost each and every time that you go out on a date or socialize with friends. If you agree to a right of first refusal for anytime you leave the children overnight, you may effectively cut out the children's opportunity to stay with Grandma for the night. One parent's experience may be of interest to you. I do not know this parent and did not have any involvement with the case, but thought that his story may be somewhat typical of what can go wrong and why significant thought should go into the wording of any Agreement. The advice offered by the posters is their thoughts only and my directing you to the page is not intended to be considered legal advice from me.

1 comment:

  1. Is the right right of first refusal implicit in Pennsylvania. Does it NEED to be written in the order to get enforced. The non custodial parent, my daughters mother, in my custody order always sends her daughter over to the grandmothers house when she is supposed to be seeing her daughter. this occuurs at least 80% of the time.


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