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Why include a first right of refusal in my custody agreement?

When negotiating a child custody agreement, especially if it appears that you're going to be designated as the noncustodial parent, it may be advisable to have what's called a right of first refusal clause included in it.

In having this included in your agreement, it ensures that you as the noncustodial parent will have to be consulted to ask if you are interested or able to take care of your child before he or she is left with someone else. It can be written to be activated whether your child is going to be left with a babysitter, day care or even with a grandparent or relative.

Aside from giving the other parent an option to care for his or her kid in lieu of day care, a first right of refusal clause can be written to require one parent to consult the other about caring for him or her in the event of a date, doctor's appointment or vacation as well.

In many cases, this clause is written so that it's activated if the child is expected to be left with a child care provider for over a certain period of time, such as more than two or three hours. Oftentimes, the clause is written to apply to both parents as well.

Especially if you and your ex split up while your child is young, there will inevitably be changes in jobs, relationships and other life circumstances that may impact the time one parent is to spend with your child.

By having a first right of refusal clause in place, it can avoid the necessity for child custody modifications to be made down the road. It also can ensure that you'll have an opportunity to spend more time with your child when the other parent cannot.

An attorney can help you learn more about whether having a first right of refusal clause is ideal in your own case.

Source: Live About, "What is right of first refusal during child custody?," Cathy Meyer, accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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