Issues involving child custody, known as parenting time in Ohio, are one of the most contentious in any divorce case involving children. Drafting an agreement is difficult, as it requires anticipating the many schedule changes that come with daily life, as well as emergencies, illnesses, and changes in work schedules. Many parents decide to include a right of first refusal clause within their agreement to allow for more flexibility. Below, our Delaware divorce lawyer explains what these clauses are, as well as the pros and cons of using them.
What is the Right of First Refusal Clause?
A right of first refusal clause states that when one parent cannot care for the child during their allocated time, they must offer the time to their former spouse. They must also offer the time to their spouse before they try to make any other arrangements for childcare. Right of first refusal clauses attempts to make a parenting time schedule more flexible in unforeseen circumstances, as well as foreseen situations.
For example, a mother may be spending the weekend with her child when she has to spend five hours away for a family emergency. The mother would have to ask the father to care for the child before asking anyone else. Failing to do so would be a violation of the right of first refusal clause, which could come with harsh consequences if the matter was litigated in court.
The Pros of a Right of First Refusal Clause
The rights of first refusal clauses are meant to be beneficial to each parent. By their very nature, they are meant to maximize the time each parent spends with their child. When each parent knows that they can offer the time to the other parent, it can also help cut down on babysitting expenses and other daycare costs.
The flexibility offered by a right of first refusal clause can also provide for peaceful relationships between the parents after the divorce, and strengthen the bond each party has with their child.
The Cons of a Right of First Refusal Clause
Although the right of first refusal clauses is meant to reduce conflict, sometimes they can actually cause it. The lines can become very blurred as to when one parent has to offer the other time and when they do not. For example, one parent may take their child to a family member’s home during their allocated time with them. During the visit, the parent may have to run out to do an errand and leave the child at the family member’s home. It could be argued that this was a violation because they did not ask the other parent to care for the child first.
When parents cannot effectively communicate and compromise with each other post-divorce, a right of first refusal clause can actually make things more difficult. One party may use it to hurt their former spouse or create an argument over every request. Although these clauses do have benefits, it is important to speak to a Delaware family lawyer to determine if it is the right option for you.
Our Family Lawyers in Delaware Can Provide Sound Legal Advice
There are many issues that will arise during a divorce case, and the right of first refusal is just one of them. At Lawrence Law Office, our Delaware divorce lawyers can provide the sound legal advice you need during every aspect of your case and help you obtain the fairest settlement possible. Contact us now at (614) 363-0752 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.