Is The Right of First Refusal a Good Idea for Your Parenting Agreement?
When divorced parents share custody of children, there are going to be times when the parent who has custody finds themselves in need of childcare in order to work, play,, or away from home for some reason. On these occasions the other co-parent might like to pick up a little extra time with the kids. Some believe that’s the most logical choice when looking for child care, and would like the right of first refusal (ROFR).
What is the right of first refusal? It’s basically an agreement that the non-custodial parent will get first dibs on being with the kids whenever childcare is needed. The right of first refusal (ROFR) is not written into Missouri custody law, but it is something that can definitely be contained in a divorce decree and parenting plan, or even simply agreed to by individuals who work well together.
Advantages of ROFR
ROFR allows for flexible scheduling, and it frees up guilt- and cost-free time away for one co- parent, while providing additional time for the kids to spend time with their other co- parent.
Challenges of ROFR
One challenge with ROFR may come when parents struggle with effective communication. When contact between co-parents is generally negative, unclear, or strained, it may be difficult (though not impossible) to pull off ROFR.
For individuals who have a hard time getting along, there are ways to make it work. Co-parents who work together to establish clear and effective communication strategies find it is a good way to minimize conflict. They keep one another informed about tentative plans so both parents are prepared for possible time with the children. Another strategy that is effective is to give the other parent as much notice as possible about the need for parental supervision duty. Successful co-parents explain changes they may wish to make in a way that optimizes the outcomes for all parties, a winning tactic for everyone. Whether communicating in person, through email, text, or phone calls, effective co-parents include necessary details and behave cordially. For those who’d really like to minimize the back-and-forth, there are apps that can notify of calendar changes and give the other parent a time frame in which to claim the time for parenting before the person initiating the request seeks outside care. One such app worth investigating is the Trade/Swap function on the OurFamilyWizard Calendar.
Tips for Effective Communication
While the thought of having to communicate with a former spouse may make you tense, it is nonetheless important when you share the responsibility of raising children together. Perhaps working on your own communication skills will make things more viable:
1- Establish and maintain the boundaries you need.
2- Practice skills like problem solving, listening, and considering multiple perspectives on issues.
3- Keep your emotions steady with breathing techniques and by taking breaks from the conversation you feel things simmering up. (That doesn’t mean hanging up on an ex; it means by telling them you need a short break and will revisit the issue later.)
4- Book regular check-ins with your co-parent to address any concerns before they become big issues.
5- Respect your ex for what they bring to the table in terms of parenting.
Making it Work
At Courtney & Mills our experienced Springfield family attorneys understand the challenges that come with divorce and are prepared to assist you in developing a parenting plan that works for you. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our office today.