New Illinois Law: Allows Judges to Order a "Right of First Refusal" for Parents Who Share Joint Custody

A new law went into effect in Illinois on January 14, 2014 that allows judges to order a "right of first refusal" for parents who share joint custody of their children. The right of first refusal (ROFR) means that any time if one parent cannot care for the children during his or her scheduled time or custody, that parent must first offer the other parent the right to take care of the children during that time."If a party intends to leave the minor child or children with a substitute child-care provider for a significant period of time, that party must first offer the other party an opportunity to personally care for the minor child or children."

This is important to the non-custodial parent, who may only have alternating weekends and midweek dinners with the children, to be able to care for the child or children when the other parent is unable to provide direct care. This extra parenting time for the non-custodial parent is invaluable and is offered when the custodial parent is away on a trip or attending a seminar.

Prior to this new law, judges had discretion in allowing these rights of first refusal in child custody cases. In some cases, there have been judges who would outright refuse to allow them in parenting agreements for the reason that these clauses in agreements were believe to invite more disputes about whether one parent's stay away was long enough, or whether the babysitter hired for a two hour movie was in violation of the ROFR. Some judges thought this would just open the door to a feature of a Parenting Agreement that would invite more litigation.

This new law is written not to mandate a ROFR, but to give the judge the ability to order it, if the particular case and mutually respectful parents allows for it. In most cases, judges will allow for the right once a material period of time, such as four hours of non-possession of the children, is involved.

At Stange Law Firm, PC, we try to help those families who are struggling and have been separated. If you are facing a divorce, we can help. Stange Law Firm is solely a family law firm that practices in the areas of Illinois divorce, child custody, child support, paternity, and other domestic relations issues.

If you would like to discuss your case with one of our attorneys, you may call 855-805-0595 to set up your confidential half-hour consultation or you can visit us online.

Source: Kane County Divorce Lawyer: Custody and New Right of First Refusal Law, by Michael Roe, The Family Law and Mediation Practice of Michael F. Roe