Frankfort Law Group
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Family law: what is the right of first refusal?

When Illinois and Indiana couples have a child in common but don't live together, it can be difficult to hash out visitation that is fair under the circumstances at hand. It can also be challenging to ensure that both parents are kept up-to-date about everything pertaining to the child. This often leaves parents afraid that they will be pushed out of their child's life. One thing that could help alleviate this concern, though, is the utilization of the right of first refusal.

The right of first refusal gives a parent the priority option to provide care for his or her child prior to the child's other parent seeking care from anyone else. Therefore, if a custodial parent wants to take a vacation and leave the child with the child's grandmother, then the noncustodial parent must first be contacted and refuse to assume care of the child before the child can be left with that grandparent. A child's parents can agree to this right of first refusal, but they don't have to.

In the event that parents don't agree to a right of first refusal, then the court may implement one if it supports the best interests of the child. In making this determination, a court may consider the kind of childcare that is needed as well as how long that childcare may be needed, the notice that was provided to the parent and his or her response to such notice, any transportation issues that may exist and anything else that may be necessary to take into consideration when making such a decision based on furtherance of the child's best interests.

The right of first refusal, like many child custody and visitation issues, can become highly contentious. This is why it is important to consider seeking out legal assistance in making arrangements with your child's other parent or when having to argue the matter in court. Only then can you assure that your and your child's best interests are as fully protected as possible under the circumstances.

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