Divorced parents may sometimes feel they are missing out on spending time with their children, especially if the other parent is awarded more parenting time in the divorce. Fortunately, under Illinois law, divorced parents have an opportunity to spend more time with their children during the other parent’s official time.
Generally, parents are supposed to spend their parenting time with their children. However, if there is an emergency, a parent may need to have a babysitter or a family member watch the child for a significant period of time.
Under Illinois law, before calling a third party to watch the child, the parent may be required to call the other parent and offer him or her the opportunity to pick up the child instead. This way, instead of the child being babysat by another person, the child spends time with the other parent. This is referred to as the right of first refusal to provide child care.
A court usually awards this right of first refusal in a case if it is in the best interest of the child to do so. For example, if the court finds that the arrangement will promote a better relationship between the parents and the child, then the court can approve this arrangement.
The details of the right of first refusal agreement or order are very important. The amount of time that triggers the “significant period of time” threshold has to be clearly defined. The parents may agree or the court may order that if one parent has to be away for several days on a business trip, the parent has to offer the other parent the opportunity to have the child.
But the period of time does not have to be days, and could be hours depending on the child’s best interest and the alternative child care available. For example, if one parent is leaving for a few hours and has to call a baby sitter for a young child, this may be considered enough time to trigger the right of first refusal. However, if the parent who has to work has remarried and the parent’s spouse can watch the child for those few hours, the right of first refusal may not be triggered.
Other issues, such as how the parents will make the offers to each other and how they will accept the offers, are also very important. Without spelling out all the parties’ expectations, disagreements are bound to come up.
Contact Us for Legal Assistance
As a parent who wants to spend extra time with your child, you may have additional questions about how the right of first refusal works. For more information on this and other child related issues in a pending divorce or after your divorce is finalized, contact an experienced and compassionate DuPage County child custody lawyer at Momkus McCluskey Roberts LLC for a consultation.