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April

The Right of First Refusal

By Iafrate & Salassa

Child with a paper family representing how our Michigan child custody lawyers can help you with your case

Michigan couples who have children and decide to get divorced often opt to have a right of first refusal clause in their parenting plans. These provisions help parents capitalize on the time that they can spend with their children by requiring parents who need the services of a babysitter or a daycare center to give the other parent the option of caring for the child before utilizing either of these options. While including a right of first refusal in many parenting plans is in a family’s best interests, this is not always true, so if you and your spouse have decided to obtain a divorce and you have children, it is important to speak with an experienced child custody attorney who can explain your legal options.

What is the Right of First Refusal?

When a parenting plan allows for a right of first refusal, each parent is required to give the other parent the first opportunity of providing care for the couple’s children if he or she is unable to do so. Essentially, the right of first refusal clause can protect a parent’s legal right to be with his or her child when that child is not in the other parent’s care. In most cases, couples are encouraged to come up with a specific period of time for alternate care when including these clauses. For instance, many couples include a provision stating that the right of first refusal only applies in cases in which one of the parents will be gone for at least four hours. Couples who fail to include these limits could end up being required to ask their child’s other parent to care for the child before enlisting the aid of a family member or babysitter, even if they are only absent for a short period of time.

Important Considerations

Including the right of first refusal in a parenting plan is not always the best course of action for a family. For instance, the right of first refusal will not usually be granted in cases in which one of the parties has been accused of domestic violence, abuse, or stalking. Similarly, if there are orders of protection or restraining orders against a person, a court is unlikely to permit a child’s parents to include a right of first refusal in a Michigan parenting plan.

The right of first refusal is also often unworkable when a child’s parents are not on good terms, are unable to cooperate, or do not have a history of being able to communicate. When there is high conflict or a child’s parents are not able to agree on anything, the right of first refusal is impractical and can often be used as a weapon by one parent against the other. Finally, including the right of first refusal in a parenting plan may not be appropriate if one of the parents does not have confidence in the parenting ability of the other due to a history of substance abuse or neglect.

Consult with a Dedicated Michigan Child Custody Attorney

Contact Iafrate & Salassa today to speak with an experienced child custody lawyer who can help you determine whether including a right of first refusal is appropriate for your own family’s parenting plan.

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