In Illinois, it’s common for unmarried parents to share custody and visitation of minor children, legally termed the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time. However, even when you agree on the relevant issues and include details in your parenting plan, unforeseen circumstances can disrupt the arrangement.

Schedules change, emergencies arise, and other factors may make it impossible to meet your obligations. Also, your ex may have conflicts. To account for this scenario, Illinois enacted a statute on right of first refusal. In sum, the law may require one parent offer the other an opportunity to provide childcare before allowing a non-parent to do so.

Disagreements over the right of first refusal can be complicated, but you can overcome challenges when you have a Chicago child custody attorney to advise you. However, an overview of the law and its implications for your parenting plan may be helpful.

Addressing the Right of First Refusal in a Parenting Plan

Illinois advocates strong parent-child bonding, which is one important underlying reason for the statute. Instead of allowing a substitute caregiver, such as a babysitter, family member or neighbor to provide care, the law may require you to extend the offer to the child’s other parent – barring an emergency or other reasons making it impossible to fulfill the request.

Still, you do have some flexibility in establishing a right of first refusal arrangement, because you can address the matter through an agreed parenting plan. The child’s best interests are paramount, as they are with any custody and visitation issues.

First Refusal Factors to Address in a Parenting Plan

In meeting the child’s best interest’s standard in your parenting plan, the following right of first refusal factors are important.

  • Duration of the Absence: You should be specific in the amount of childcare. Notifying the other parent and handling transportation may be impractical for short absences, where it’s practical to have a third party provide care.
  • Alternate Care Options: The type(s) of childcare alternatives should be addressed in your parenting plan, such as a second spouse, family member, unrelated babysitter, or others.
  • Offer and Response: The details of making the offer and response should be well-defined, including specifics on whether it’s by text, phone, or other methods. You should also indicate how long the offering parent should wait for a response before moving to other options.
  • Transportation: Make sure your parenting plan includes information on who’s responsible for transporting the child when one parent exercises the right of first refusal.

Get More Information from a Chicago Child Custody Lawyer

The first refusal right is important to your child’s care and well-being, so it’s critical to address the topic in a way that’s appropriate for your circumstances. When you include proper provisions in your parenting plan, disputes are less likely to build into a major legal issue. To learn more about how an attorney can assist with the right of first refusal in Illinois parenting plans, please contact Michael C. Craven. You can set up a consultation at our Chicago, IL office by calling (312) 621-5234 or visiting us online.