Daddy Daycare: A Father’s Right to First Refusal

Thank you for joining me. My name is LaSheena Williams, and I am a Maryland family law attorney. My firm helps our clients take control of out-of-control domestic situations. Today, we will be discussing the right of first refusal.

What is the right of first refusal?

The right of first refusal is the right of a parent to be asked if they want additional access with their children if the parent that has access is unable to have access. What does that mean? If your co-parent decides that they have a work trip and they’re going to be out of town for two weeks and they can’t follow the current custody schedule, the right of first refusal means that they must contact you first before offering that time to anyone else. So, what that means in a nutshell, is you are the first person to be asked for additional time with your children before some third party, such as, a friend, a babysitter, or a family member is given that access.

Why is it important?

The right of first refusal is important for several reasons. The first reason being that, as the co-parent you should have priority in spending additional time with your children. The second reason is it shows quite frankly that you are actively engaged with making sure that your child spends as much time with you as possible. The third reason is that it shows an ability for you and your co-parent to work together to make sure that any lapses and time or any conflicts that may arise can quickly be addressed if your co-parent knows that they can rely on you to care for the child if they must go for work or if there’s some sort of emergency. Then, I think it ultimately increases the ability for you to both communicate and effectively work together.

How to get the Right of First Refusal by Informal Agreement, Agreement, or Court Order

There are a few different ways that you can get the right of first refusal. The first being, if you and your co-parent just agree that if something comes up and you need someone to step in and care for your children during a period that you both agree that you will offer that time to your co-parent. The second way to do it is instead of informally agreeing that you have a written and executed agreement that specifically spells out the terms of the right of first refusal whether you’re getting your child or they’re getting the child it’s spelled out in the contract and you both understand and agree to those terms. The third way to get a right of first refusal, and this way may be easier or harder depending on how you look at it, is to get a court order where the court will order that the co-parent has the right to additional time if the parent with the current access is unavailable those are all perfectly reasonable ways to get a right of first refusal and making sure that you spend time with your children if your co-parent is unavailable.

If you have any questions about child custody modification or child custody establishment and how that plays with the right of first refusal, contact the Law Office of LaSheena M. Williams at (301) 778 – 9950 or leave an online request for a consultation.