What Is the Right of First Refusal in Child Custody Law?

Going through a divorce can be an emotionally, physically and financially exhausting time. When you and the person you thought you would spend the rest of your life with realizing that’s not going to happen, at least without one or both of you being miserable, it tends to lead to a turmoil of conflicting emotions. Even when you’ve been the spouse who first suggested separation and divorce, it’s unlikely to be an easy decision. You’ve probably wondered if you’re doing the right thing if you’re blowing a normal relationship issue out of proportion, and what on earth will happen to the house, car, or other property you own together. Of course, material goods aren’t worth staying in an unhappy marriage for, but when you add children to the mix, divorcing becomes even more complex.

Before you go ahead and speak to a Salt Lake City divorce attorney about the practicalities of your divorce, including child custody, you’ll probably do some reading of your own. One of the common questions we hear from divorcing parents is –

What Is the Right of First Refusal, and How Could It Affect Me?

The right of first refusal is an aspect of Utah law which gives the non-resident parent the right to care for their children when the custodial parent is not available. The reasons for this unavailability may include school, work, medical appointments and a whole load of others. The right of first refusal means that, when a babysitter is needed, the non-resident parent has the right to care for the children, rather than the custodial parent hiring someone else.

For example, if the children live with mom and she needs to work in the evenings, dad can opt to provide this care and avoid the use of a paid childcare provider. The idea behind this law is to maximize the amount of time the non-residential parent gets to spend with their children and to minimize the expense of daycare and babysitters for the parent providing most of the care. However, it’s worth remembering that this is a recommended strategy, not an obligation set in stone.

If your child custody agreement includes reference to the right of first refusal, it may be mandatory in your case, depending on the wording. Either way, there’s generally a time limit set before this right is applied, normally around 3 or 4 hours. This avoids the custodial parent from having to relinquish parental control if they need to go to the store for 15 minutes, for example.

The right of first refusal can work very well in some circumstances, such as those where the non-resident parent wants to spend as much time as possible with their children, and equal child custody isn’t already in place. However, there are also some potential downsides, such as situations where equal custody exists and the right of first refusal sparks arguments between the parents.

Getting Expert Advice on the Right of First Refusal

If you would like a more in-depth explanation of how the right of first refusal could apply in the case of your own divorce or have had issues with your children’s other parent, you need a Salt Lake City with extensive child custody experience.

Call 801-539-9000 to schedule a consultation with a Salt Lake City child custody attorney who you can rely on to always be in your corner.