First, let’s ask and answer the question on everyone’s mind, what is a right of first refusal in Florida child custody cases? A first right of refusal custody is an optional paragraph/clause in a Florida parenting plan. A right of first refusal custody clause in a parenting plan will state that the parent who currently has timesharing (suppose it is dad’s weekend, or Mom’s school night with the child) shall contact the other parent to ask if the other parent would like to care for their child at that time, usually for 4 or 6 hours or for an overnight. In some cases, a right of first refusal will apply if the timesharing parent (parent currently with the Child) will be away for more than four or six hours during which they cannot supervise their child. If you have timesharing and child custody questions, call Jacobs Law Firm for a consultation at 407-335-8113. A first right of refusal can be vital to your child custody.
A Florida parenting plan governs as a backdrop/fallback/default if the parents have good communication and a positive relationship. Parents are free to govern their own conduct on their own terms (generally best to do so in writing). A parenting plan is an ironclad schedule that applies daily for parents that argue, fail to communicate, and cannot agree on other terms. Coparenting is important for your children.
Right of First Refusal in Florida Child Custody Cases
For example, a right of first refusal in Florida child custody cases would apply if Mother, who is an on-call doctor, is with the kids when she is called into work. She is asked to come to the hospital overnight to treat patients on an emergency basis. The right of first refusal provision requires Dr. Mom to call Dad to ask if he can or wants to take care of the kids overnight because she has to go to work unexpectedly. Dad has the right to first refusal to take the kids for the night, though he is not obligated to accept the extra timesharing. The right of first refusal will operate to allow him that option, opportunity, and choice. Just like a right of first refusal is optional in a Florida parenting plan, it is optional for the non-timesharing parent to exercise the right when it may apply/occur. This option is a security blanket for the child to have proper supervision.
Here is another hypothetical example: Father has his son Monday-Friday, but this week on Thursday, for a business conference, he has to travel to Texas for work. Father must call, text, and/or e-mail Mother to ask if she wants to have timesharing with their son on Thursday. If the answer is no, Dad can of course find suitable child care (unless a mutual agreement is necessary according to the Parenting Plan), or even have grandma or grandpa step in for the night. Most parenting plans are different because they accommodate couples and their families with unique circumstances.
A Right Of First Refusal Custody Clause
A right of first refusal custody clause may state something similar to the following:
“Each party must offer the other parent/party the opportunity to care for the Child before using a different child care provider for any overnight period. The party exercising the right of first refusal shall be responsible for transportation beginning and ending their time with their Child.”
As mentioned above, a right of first refusal custody clause may specify the amount of time the timesharing gap in time, such as four hours, overnight, or otherwise, so the parents may govern their conduct appropriately. Communicate openly and forthrightly. It is common that parents set 4 or 6 hours as the time for the right of refusal.
What if I Refuse a Right of First Refusal?
Buyer beware, caveat emptor. If you refuse a right of first refusal multiple times, would you be surprised to learn that your co-parent no longer contacts you when your Child needs overnight supervision during their timesharing? Establish a pattern of trust and reliability if you want this provision to work in your regular or long-distance parenting plan.
Jonathan Jacobs is an affordable child custody attorney divorce and family law attorney in Orlando, Winter Park, Clermont, Kissimmee, Davenport, Montverde, Winter Garden, Kissimmee, Altamonte Springs, Tavares, Bushnell, Melbourne, Viera, and all throughout Central Florida. Call the Jacobs Law Firm for a consultation at 407-335-8113 and learn about parenting plans in Florida divorce and paternity cases.