The “Right of First Refusal” Concept in California Divorce
The “Right of First Refusal” concept in California divorce and custody cases awards one parent the first option to undertake the responsibility of the child in the absence of the other parent. What this means is that after a legal custody battle, one parent can take care of the child during the time that has been allotted for the other parent. The right of first refusal allows parents to take responsibility for child care instead of awarding it to a third party.
The right of first refusal has two advantages. First, the child is not put into the hands of a third party. Second, the costs for paying the third-party care provider is also avoided.
When can the right be exercised
Parents who are unavailable to take care of their children for more than 12 hours must notify the other parent prior to the unavailability. It gives the other parent plenty of time to consider the decision. If the other parent refuses to be present at the mentioned time, it becomes the custodial parent’s duty to look for an alternative care for his/her child.
For the right of first refusal to become actionable, deciding the period of time is very important. However, since there is no perfect timeframe which decides the right, it depends on case to case. It’s a good idea to include a divorce lawyer during such matters.
One of the most important factors for exercising the right of first refusal is geography. For the right to take place, parents need to stay close to each other. If the distance is too long, the right may not be of too much help.
When can it be misused
There have been instances where the right of first refusal has been misused. If you have not enjoyed a good relationship with your spouse, then he/she may not agree to your offer. During tight-knit custody battles, such rights can make a lot of difference in custody preferences.
A divorce affects children badly. It has negative psychological effects which can become physical if ignored. Custody battles are tough and the state of California has laws to make sure the child spends an equal amount of time with each parent. The right of first refusal was created to provide temporary custody to the other parent in the absence of the first one. It helps avoid the involvement of third parties and keeps the matter between the two parents.
To learn more about the divorce process in California and how mediation can help, please visit our page, What is Divorce Mediation.