What is the “right of first refusal”?
Right of first refusal is a legal phrase, which in a child custody setting, is the right to have the first “no” when the other side is unable to care for the child during their time.
Mom and Dad share custody with a 2-2-5 parenting plan. This is Mom’s weekend, but she has to travel out of town to a work convention.
If Mom and Dad have a “right of first refusal” provision in their custody agreement, Mom would first need to call DAD to give him the right to watch the kids while she is gone.
BEFORE she calls a babysitter.
BEFORE she calls Grandma.
The pros to this provision is that the children always get mom or dad when one is gone. It encourages the parents to call one another, rely on each other, and encourages flexibility and understanding.
The cons is that this provision, if abused, can lead to gatekeeping.
It allows the other side to say NO to anyone else watching the children, such as grandparents, babysitters, aunts and uncles.
In the above example, let’s say kids love spending time with Grandma. If Dad was a jerk about it, he could say “NO, I want to take the kids, because I have right of first refusal”.
Remember, it takes a village.
Children benefit from MORE love, not less.
Finally, children benefit from your maturity and cooperation.
The success of your coparenting depends on understanding these tenets. Go to counseling!