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Custody and the right of first refusal: What parents need to know

The most painful aspect of your divorce, without a doubt, is the idea that you’ll have to split the time spent with your children with your ex. Shared custody has, after all, become the norm for divorced parents.

You’re okay with your ex-spouse having shared custody, but there’s one thing that drives you crazy: Your spouse gets called away from home for business quite a lot. The schedule isn’t always set, and that could mean your child will end up in the care of a nanny or sitter for days at a time.

Every minute with your child is precious to you and you don’t relish the idea of their care being handed over to virtual strangers.

Negotiating for the right of first refusal can help

There’s a fairly easy solution to this problem. You can actually have a clause put in your custody agreement that requires both you and your ex-spouse to call each other first when an unexpected situation comes up with child care.

For example, your agreement may give you two hours to claim your child and pick up a little extra parenting time when your ex-spouse has to go out of town instead of allowing your child to be supervised by a third party. In an emergency, your ex could leave your child with a caretaker and notify you as soon as possible, giving you the chance to take over until they return.

While agreements like these have to be unilaterally applied, they can be reassuring. You know that your child will always have appropriate care because you can step in.

Don’t leave your parenting plan to chance

Parenting plans require a lot of insight, forethought and flexibility to be useful. Working with an attorney who understands the needs of modern families — and the complications they often face — can make the process much easier.