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Custody agreements and first right of refusal clauses

Both you and your former spouse want what is best for your children. While sharing custody can be challenging, you can likely reduce conflict by drafting a comprehensive custody agreement. If your ex-spouse frequently travels for work or other reasons, you may want to include a first right of refusal clause in your parenting plan. 

Like most parents, you want to spend as much time as possible with your children. Still, you recognize the importance of having two parents in your children’s lives. With a first right of refusal clause, your ex-spouse must ask you if you can care for the children before asking a daycare service, babysitter, family member, friend or anyone else. Here are some of the advantages of including a first right of refusal provision in your child custody agreement. 

You keep control over who cares for your kids 

Shared parenting has its advantages and drawbacks. While you may trust your former spouse to care for your kids, you may have less faith in others. With a first right of refusal clause, you have the option of seeing your children when their other parent is busy. Further, the provision may help you keep your kids away from negative influences. 

You help your co-parent with travel schedules 

There are usually few good reasons to be combative with your ex-spouse. If you can lend a helping hand, you may buy yourself some future goodwill. When you agree to take care of your kids, you help your former partner better manage travel schedules. Of course, if you must regularly rearrange your schedule to do the job of a traveling ex, you may want to seek a modification of your custody agreement. 

You protect your parental rights 

If you share legal custody of your children, you likely want to assert your parental rights regularly. When your child’s co-parent is unable to take care of your kids, you do not want to leave important decisions to a third party. By agreeing to step in, you demonstrate you take your parental obligations seriously. 

There is no such thing as a standard custody agreement. On the contrary, parents must carefully draft parenting plans to address both their needs and the needs of their children. If you think your former spouse is likely to be unavailable, including a first right of refusal clause in your custody agreement may be a smart idea.

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