Parenting and the Right of First Refusal

Parenting can be tough when you are undergoing a divorce as well as it is after a divorce. As a parent, you would want to be in a good co-parenting relationship with your ex-spouse once the divorce is finalized. You are probably aware that the toughest elements of the divorce are being felt by your child the most. Your child might understand more than what he or she lets on. It is your responsibility to deal with issues with your spouse so you can both be good parents to your child despite the divorce.


Right of First Refusal


When you are finalizing your divorce, you are probably negotiating with your soon-to-be-ex-spouse about many things concerning your family, especially child support and custody issues. You need to be aware that whatever you agree to during this period will be used as the standard of how you get on with your lives after the divorce. When the orders about your children in your Final Decree rolls out, you must know that this will be what you need to follow until your child’s 18th birthday. You and your spouse will have to concede certain issues to each other until you can reach a setup that is satisfactory for both of you. You won’t get everything you want, and your spouse can’t either, but you will end up with something both of you can accept and deal with.

One of the things you might have to negotiate for is the right of first refusal. This right is something you owe to your spouse on some occasions. This is also a right that you can exercise. For instance, if you have your child in your possession or if you are set to have the child in your possession but you can’t take care of the child on the said time, you must contact your ex-spouse to give him or her the chance to take possession of the child. It is not mandatory for your ex-spouse to take care of the child but you are obligated to provide him or her the chance to refuse. If your ex-spouse is not available, then you have to seek other childcare options.

When you were married, you worked together in raising your child. The circumstances may have changed after your divorce, but parenting stays basically the same. If you had teamwork during your marriage, there is no reason to stop it just because you are divorced. Your teamwork is definitely in the best interests of your child.


Consequences Related to Agreement to the Right of First Refusal


The right of First Refusal is really applied in the real world. You could have agreed to it without much thought about its long-term impact. After all, during mediation, you surely had a lot of things in your mind. Aside from that, it sounds reasonable. When it comes to the actual application of this right in real life, it’s a little difficult to predict. Sometimes, it can be tricky.

For instance, a situation like this can occur: You will be forced to tell your spouse every single time when you cannot take possession of your child. For instance, if you are suddenly called to work during your schedule to take possession of your child, you might need to let your ex-spouse know instead of asking your new spouse to just watch your child for a little while.

This all depends on the specific terms stated in your Final Divorce Decree.  If you end up having to call your ex-spouse every two hours to give him or her the chance to watch your child, it can get really tiresome. It can also disrupt your life and your child’s life.


What Can You Do If You Have Already Agreed To It?

If you and your ex-spouse have agreed to a Right of First Refusal in good faith and it is causing some issues with your parenting, you can still try to make modifications to it through a court. This means you will have to hire a family law attorney and you will also need to inform your ex-spouse regarding your intentions. It can be really stressful especially since you’re still practically emotionally drained from the legal battle brought on by the divorce.

It will be helpful to seek the guidance of an attorney regarding this issue. In theory, the right to first refusal may sound ideal, but in reality, it can be a noose tightening around your neck. Of course, it can work great for some, but it’s not always guaranteed. Think deeply and try to foresee the possible effects your decision can make in the future before signing any type of agreement.


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Mr. Hutton is a Divorce and Custody Lawyer based out of Round Rock, TX. His background is with child psychology at Arizona State University where he received a B.S. in 2006, and he continued this by working with the Children’s Right’s Clinic at the University of Texas School of Law where he received his J.D. in 2009. Throughout his practice, he has been a strong proponent of utilizing modern technology to improve his practice and the representation of his clients. He currently is the technology chair of CAFA of Travis County and is committed to improving and modernizing the practice of law in Texas. If you have any questions you can contact him at

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