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What is first right of refusal in a custody agreement?

Even though you have decided to end your marriage, you remain committed to raising happy, healthy and well-adjusted kids. To do so, you probably want to draft a comprehensive custody agreement that outlines how you and your ex-spouse will parent your children. While custody agreements have various provisions, successful ones often include a first right of refusal clause. 

Simply put, a first right of refusal clause requires the parent with custody to offer the other parent the opportunity to see the children in the first parent’s absence. For example, if your ex-spouse has a weekend visitation schedule and must go out of town, he or she must ask you to care for the kids first before hiring a babysitter or asking a friend or family member to watch the children. 

Have more time with your children 

You want to make your custody agreement work. While you may understand the importance of sharing custody with your ex-spouse, you also want as much time as possible with your kids. A first right of refusal allows you to see your children when you otherwise would not. 

Enjoy flexibility for work-related or other types of travel 

You may feel busier than ever after your divorce. While you are willing to rearrange your schedule to care for your kids, you may not always be able to move important travel or other obligations. With a first right of refusal clause, you may enjoy flexibility for travel without irritating your spouse. 

Control who sees your kids 

After your divorce, you must come to terms with your ex-partner’s parenting style. You may not, however, like the childcare proxy your ex chooses. By including a first right of refusal provision in your custody agreement, you keep some control over who takes care of your kids. 

First right of refusal clauses are not right for all parents. Nonetheless, including such a provision in your custody agreement may be the best way to ensure your children have what they need to grow into successful adults.

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