Reeder & Brown, P.C.


Three Facts About the Right of First Refusal

 Posted on September 22,2021 in Divorce

IL family lawyerParents in Will County, IL who are getting divorced or modifying their joint parenting order must create a legally binding document stipulating the decision-making responsibilities and parenting time schedule of each parent with their child. This document is called a “parenting plan.” Parents are encouraged to work together to create a parenting plan that meets the needs of the children while making sense for both parents.

The “right of first refusal” is an important piece of any parenting plan. Designed to maximize the time a child can spend with each parent, the right of first refusal requires divorced or separated parents to contact each other, rather than a babysitter or family member when they need additional child care. This article contains three helpful facts about the right of first refusal in Illinois. If you have any questions about the right of first refusal, contact a Lockport family law attorney right away.

The Right of First Refusal Only Applies Under Certain Circumstances

Parents must stipulate the circumstances that require offering each other the right of first refusal, including how long the absence from the children must be. The law on this matter is intentionally somewhat vague, referring to the time a parent might be away from the child as a “significant period of time.”

This is done in order to allow parents wide flexibility in determining how much time constitutes “significant.” If parents live very close together and have flexible work schedules, the time period could be as short as two or three hours. If they live further away, have difficulty arranging work schedules, or have a high-conflict relationship, the absence triggering the right of first refusal could be as long as six hours to a day.

Parents Do Not Have to Have the Right of First Refusal

Parents can choose not to include or to severely limit the right of first refusal privileges in their parenting plan. If a parent has very limited or supervised visitation with a child, then including the right of first refusal would probably not make sense. Not all parents live close enough to each other or have sufficiently predictable schedules, to make the right of first refusal possible.

However, the 2014 change in Illinois law that provided for the right of first refusal was done in an effort to allow children to spend the maximum amount of time with both parents. The right of first refusal can be especially helpful for parents who only have weekend parenting time but who want to spend more time with their children.

Parents Who Cannot Agree Usually Attend Mediation

If parents fail to create a right of first refusal arrangement together, they may be ordered by a judge to go through a mediation process that will attempt to resolve their differences with the help of a trained third-party mediator. Only if the mediation process is unsuccessful will a parenting plan case go to court. Illinois courts and judges encourage parents to resolve their disagreements through mediation whenever possible to avoid the negative impact of divorce litigation, especially on children.

Work with a Will County Family Law Attorney

If you need help creating your parenting plan, or if you have any questions about the right of first refusal, speak with a Plainfield, IL family law attorney. At Reeder & Brown, P.C., we can help you make sure your parenting plan contains all the necessary pieces so you and your child are set up for success. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation. Call our Joliet offices at 815-885-5980.



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