You love being a parent, but your ex has never exactly been great at caretaking. Now that you’re divorce, you’re concerned that the kids are going to be shuffled off to a sitter, left with a nanny or foisted on any available relative every time your ex has someplace to go during their parenting time.
Can you do anything about it? Consider working “the right of first refusal” into your parenting plan.
What’s the right of first refusal?
Basically, this means that your co-parent will have to give you the option of caring for your child before they turn to a sitter, nanny or relative for assistance.
For example, imagine that your ex frequently gets called away from home on business. That’s unlikely to change once you’re divorced, and you don’t want your children spending time with a virtual stranger or extended family when they could be in your care, instead.
The right of first refusal would give you that option — but be warned: These kinds of agreements generally apply to both parents. If you ask the court to impose this on your spouse, you’ll likely find yourself bound to the same terms.
How can you make this work?
You probably don’t want to have to call your ex to watch the kids every time you go shopping — especially if you have a trusted friend or neighbor who is ready and willing to entertain the kids for an hour or two.
Your custody agreement can specify that the right of first refusal only kicks in if the parent with physical custody expects to need alternate care for more than two hours (or three or four, depending upon what you and your ex can agree).
Working through all the possible custody issues you have with your ex can be hard — but the voice of experience can help. Work with an advocate who understands the issues you’re facing and knows how to guide you through this complicated process.