Can I Prevent My Ex from Hiring a Babysitter During Parenting Time?
When parents are going through a divorce in Oakbrook Terrace, they often have questions and concerns about parenting time. Under Illinois law, parenting time is one aspect of parental responsibilities, and it can be allocated by the parents through a parenting plan, or the court can allocate parenting time when the parents cannot reach an agreement. In either scenario, the allocation of parenting time must be in the best interests of the child. One issue that arises with regard to parenting time is babysitting, or what will happen when the parent asks another person to care for the child during his or her parenting time.
The parents may be able to have a “right of first refusal.” Generally speaking, the only way a parent might be able to prevent an ex-spouse from hiring a legitimate babysitter during his or her parenting time is if there is a provision for the right of first refusal.
Right of First Refusal Under Illinois Law
The Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) allows for, but does not require, a provision for the “right of first refusal.” The IMDMA says that the right of first refusal means that if a parent plans on leaving the child with a substitute child-care provider, that parent must first offer the other parent a chance to personally care for the child.
A right of first refusal in an allocation judgment or parenting plan can only occur in two ways:
- Parents agree to the right of first refusal
- Court believes the right of first refusal would be in the best interest of the child
In effect, a provision for the right of first refusal requires the parent who would otherwise be hiring a substitute childcare provider to contact the other parent to see if that other parent wants to provide the childcare instead. Many parents prefer to have a right of first refusal in place because they can make sure that caretaking functions are exercised in the way they want, and that parent may also be able to spend additional time with their child in these circumstances.
What the Right of First Refusal Looks Like
If the parents agree to a right of first refusal, they will need to clarify when it applies. If the right of first refusal is put into place by the court, then the court needs to make specific provisions for the following:
- Type of substitute childcare that will invoke the other parent’s right of first refusal
- Length of substitute childcare that will invoke the other parent’s right of first refusal, or what a “significant period of time” looks like for the family
- How the parents will notify one another
- How transportation for the child will work when one parent exercises a right of first refusal
Situations Where a Right of First Refusal Might Take Effect
When there is a provision for a right of first refusal, can a parent exercise it at any time? For example, if a parent with parenting time needs to leave home for a one-hour work meeting, does the right of first refusal apply? In general, the specifics should be outlined clearly. For many parents, a quick need for substitute childcare will not require the other parent to have a right of first refusal since this is not a “significant period of time,” as the IMDMA clarifies. Even if one parent plans to hire a babysitter for a couple of hours one evening, this time period may not be considered “significant” such that the other parent would have a right of first refusal.
It is essential to understand the agreement you have reached with your spouse, or the provisions the court has made for the right of first refusal.
Contact a DuPage County Child Custody Attorney
In many child custody situations involving substitute childcare, the other parent is concerned about who the babysitter will be and wants an opportunity to provide caretaking functions for the child during that time. When you have questions about the right of first refusal, a skilled DuPage County child custody lawyer can help. Contact Farooqi & Husain Law Office online or call our firm at 630-909-9114. We have years of experience serving the Muslim community and can speak with you today about your family situation.