The Right of First Refusal Explained

Parents tend to have the most influence on their children’s lives. The time that children spend with each parent helps shape their personalities over time and gives them their first look into what being part of a family is like. As long as there are no issues related to safety, it’s important that children spend quality time with both of their parents as much as they can.

This may sound simple enough, but parenting situations in New Mexico impacted by divorce or separation can make shared parenting time more difficult. Strong disagreements and conflict that puts parents at odds with one another can have a negative effect on how much time each parent spends with the children. Over time, this can affect the parent-child relationship as well.

How to create a shared parenting schedule is not always a black-and-white matter, but having the right of first refusal in your parenting plan may make it easier in some situations. 

The Right of First Refusal

In child custody situations, the right of first refusal is when one parent has to give the other parent a chance to look after the kids before asking a family member or babysitter instead. It’s a clause used in agreements to help parents with parenting time exchange navigation.

This right usually applies to both last-minute and planned situations. For example, if a parent makes plans for a night out two months or a day before the event itself, they have to offer the other parent the chance to care for the children before they make other arrangements. If the other parent declines, a third party – such as a relative or babysitter – can be asked to watch the kids instead. The right of first refusal often applies to other situations, such as vacations and doctor’s appointments, as well.

Benefits and Drawbacks

The right of first refusal can help parents manage custody and give each parent the chance to have as much time as possible with their kids. It also encourages more flexibility when parents call each other for parenting time exchanges, and it can support parental communication when it is working well.

While the right of first refusal clause can be beneficial to parents, there are potential drawbacks. Parents who already have a hard time communicating may find it hard to ask for any changes to parenting time. In addition, how parents communicate these requests can impact how successful they are. A vague text or long email may not be the right way to handle parenting time requests, especially if that type of communication hasn’t worked well in the past.

Avoiding Conflict Is Vital

The right of first refusal encourages kids to spend more time with each parent, but it can be hard for parents to plan these exchanges when conflict is involved. It’s best, whenever possible, for co-parents to keep each other updated on any set in stone or tentative plans that may call for adjustments to the normal parenting schedule. Providing notice as early as possible can reduce friction for everyone involved. In addition to notice, parents should communicate parenting time exchange requests as clearly as possible so everyone is aware of what is happening and when. Cutting down on confusion will help take stress and potential frustration out of the process.

Having a right of first refusal as part of your parenting agreement can offer benefits, but it can also bring complications. When you commit to clear communication and direct responses, this right can be a good way to ensure your children spend time with both parents on a more regular basis.