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What Is the Right of First Refusal in Arizona Child Custody Cases?

By Zachary Mushkatel on

Father bidding goodbye to her daughter.

As a parent who is going through a divorce in Arizona, you should know about the right of first refusal. Many parents agree to give each other this right in a parenting plan, or they ask a Family Court judge to give it to them in a court-ordered plan. If a parent has the right of first refusal, then that parent should receive the first opportunity to care for his or her child when the other parent cannot do so during scheduled parenting time.

In this article, we look at why a parent might want the right of first refusal. We also discuss how to request it and, even more importantly, how to make it work for everyone as your family moves forward after a divorce. To learn more about the right of first refusal or to discuss the specific facts of your divorce and child custody case, please feel free to contact Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker PLLC, today. An experienced and compassionate member of our legal team will review your case in a confidential consultation.

Why Would You Ask for the Right of First Refusal?

A Father Talking to His DaughterWhen parents of minor children divorce, they will need to deal with two issues: Legal decision making and parenting time. Legal decision making refers to a parent’s authority to make decisions which can affect the child’s health and future, including decisions about the child’s medical care, education, religious upbringing and even the child’s appearance. Parenting time refers to the time a parent spends with a child. When the other parent cannot care for the child during his or her scheduled time, you may very well want to be the first option to look over the child – rather than a babysitter, child care facility, relative, friend or other party. Of course, you won’t be the only one who benefits from exercising this right. Spending more time with your children also serves your child’s best interests.


When Do You Request the Right of First Refusal?

A parenting plan is a document which establishes legal decision making and parenting time when the parents of minor children divorce. Parents can agree on a parenting plan. If the parents cannot settle on a parenting plan, a court will decide one for them after hearing from both parents and reviewing other information.

If you would like to see a right of first refusal clause put into your parenting plan, you should make sure to request it while negotiating with the other parent during settlement negotiations. Should your matter proceed to trial, you should then request the judge order this terms part of your parenting plan.

How Can the Right of First Refusal Work?

Giving the right of first refusal to you and/or the other parent will work only if the two of you can make it work. If you and the other parent frequently argue with each other, or if you cannot communicate well with each other, problems could quickly arise.

You should be able to trust that the other parent will contact you when the parent must be away from the child for a period of time or when some other event occurs that triggers your right of first refusal. Additionally, it should be clear how the two of you will communicate about it. Will the other parent call, text or e-mail you when the parent needs someone to look over the child? How long will you have to respond to the parent’s message? After a certain period of time passes, can the parent move on to other options such as a babysitter? All these issues should be contemplated when considering whether to include this term in your parenting plan or to request a judge order it as part of your parenting plan.

Get Help from an Experienced Arizona Child Custody Lawyer

At Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker PLLC, we understand how challenging it can be for parents to go through a divorce. We are here to provide knowledgeable legal guidance in a calm and supportive environment. When you meet with us to discuss your divorce and child custody goals, we can explain the right of first refusal to you in more detail. We can also discuss the steps which we can take on your behalf to secure the right of first refusal. To learn more, contact us today for a consultation through our office in Sun City, Scottsdale, Glendale, Peoria, or Surprise.