Right of First Refusal in Chicago, Illinois Child Custody and Visitation Cases
One of the sad realities of divorce is that each parent has less time to spend with their children. But in 2013, the Illinois legislature passed a law that would maximize the amount of time parents can spend with their children, regardless of the final division of child custody. The new law, which amended the Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, went into effect on January 1, 2014, and allows the Court to grant parents a right of first refusal for child care in child custody and visitation agreements.
The Right of First Refusal in Child Custody Cases
A right of first refusal gives the non-custodial parent (the parent who is not currently caring for the child) the right to provide child care if the other parent needs a babysitter or other child care provider. For example, if the mother has primary custody but must put the children in daycare during the week while she works, she must first offer the father the opportunity to care for the children. If the father accepts, then he will be able to care for the children while the mother is at work, without the extra time being counted against his regularly scheduled visitation. If the father refuses, then the mother is free to put the children in daycare.
Awarding Right of First Refusal in Illinois Child Custody and Visitation Orders
As in any child custody case, the parents may agree on its terms that includes agreeing to give each other a right of first refusal for child care.
If the parents cannot agree, then either of them may ask the Court to award a right of first refusal. The Court will order a right of first refusal if it is in the child’s best interest, and only in cases where the Court awarded joint custody or visitation. A parent who does not comply with the right of first refusal can be taken back to Court for enforcement.
In making the award, the Court must consider and provide for the length and kind of child care requirements invoking the right, the amount of time each parent has to notify and respond to the request for child care, transportation requirements and any other action necessary to protect and promote the best interest of the child.
There are many situations in which the non-custodial parent would have the right of first refusal, such as when the custodial parent has an overnight work trip, goes on vacation, has a date or any other situation in which the custodial parent would normally ask a babysitter, family member or friend to watch the children.
There are also situations where the right of first refusal, even when granted in the visitation agreement, would be impractical. If the parents lived in different states, it would not make sense for the custodial parent to offer a right of first refusal for an overnight work trip. If the custodial parent had an unexpected appointment come up, it might make more sense for the child to go to a friend’s house after school, rather than offer a right of first refusal.
Palatine Child Custody Attorney
Child custody cases are stressful because no matter the outcome it ultimately means less time spent with your children. If you and your ex-partner are arguing over child custody and visitation, you need an experienced family law attorney in your corner to help you get as much time with your children as possible. If you live in Palatine or Chicago’s northwest suburbs, contact the Law Offices of Nicholas W. Richardson, P.C., today to discuss your child custody and visitation options.