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Right of First Refusal


Our day to day lives rarely go according to plan. For this reason, Florida family law courts created something known as the right of first refusal, which applies when one parent is unable to care for a child during a scheduled visit. In these cases, the parent with the conflict must first ask the child’s other parent to fulfill caretaking responsibilities in his or her stead. Only when the other parent refuses or is unable to take the child during that time period, can the parent with the initial conflict ask a third party to watch the child. Although including a right of first refusal provision in a parenting plan is not required under Florida law, most parents are encouraged to include it, as it makes it easier for both parents to spend as much time with their child as possible.

If you are in the process of drafting your own parenting plan or your former spouse has violated your right of first refusal, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our dedicated child custody legal team to learn more about your legal rights and options.

How the Right of First Refusal Works 

Most right of first refusal provisions provide that if one parent, who is currently caring for a child under the terms of a parenting time award, cannot care for the child due to a conflict or prior obligation, he or she must give the other parent the option of caring for the child before seeking care from a third party. If the other parent is able to provide care, then the parent with the conflict must allow his or her former partner to provide that care. If, on the other hand, the child’s other parent can also not fulfill caretaking responsibilities at that time, then the parent with current custody of the child is free to arrange for a babysitter or daycare for the child.

Issues to Consider  

It is important for those who are considering including this type of provision in their parenting plans to consider a number of important issues. For instance, if there is a history of domestic violence in the family, or two former partners have a contentious relationship that makes communication difficult, a couple may want to rethink whether including a right of first refusal in their plan is appropriate. Other important issues that parents should consider prior to including this provision in their parenting plan include:

  • The distance between their homes;
  • Who will be required to provide transportation for the child if one parent were to assert this right;
  • How much notice one parent would need to give the other in order to exercise the right of first refusal;
  • How much time each parent is given to accept or deny the right of first refusal; and
  • Whether there are scenarios when offering the right of first refusal isn’t necessary like in emergency situations or if one parent already knows that the other is unavailable due to a conflicting work schedule.

Contact Our Office Today  

Please call dedicated Fort Lauderdale child custody lawyer Sandra Bonfiglio, P.A. at 954-945-7591 today for help negotiating the terms of your own parenting plan.



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