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All parents getting an Illinois divorce must create a parenting plan that is included in their final divorce decree. When parents cannot agree on a parenting plan, they must litigate their differences in court and a judge will ultimately make the decisions for them.
A parenting plan is a legally binding agreement that covers issues such as the allocation of parental responsibilities, a parenting time schedule, where the child will live, whether a parent can move if the child lives with them, and how parents will exchange important information like healthcare and grades. In Illinois, parenting plans must also contain a provision regarding the “right of first refusal.”
Illinois law has changed over the years to better reflect the state’s commitment to serving the best interests of the child. Research and national social trends show that children generally do best when they are able to maximize the time spent with each parent after a divorce.
The right of first refusal aims to encourage more time with each parent by obligating parents who need supplemental child care to seek it from the child’s other parent before hiring a babysitter or asking other family members. For example, if a mother decides to take night classes three times a week for four hours each, and the parenting plan stipulates that parents must offer each other the right of first refusal every time a parent leaves the children for more than three hours, the mother will need to ask the father if he is available to watch their children while she is in class. The father is not obligated to say yes, but he must first refuse the opportunity before the mother may seek childcare elsewhere.
Parents may design the right of first refusal provision in any way that suits their needs. Factors like how close parents live to each other, how flexible their work schedules are, and whether each parent has access to transportation can all affect the terms of the right of first refusal. Some parents decide the right of first refusal does not apply to their situation, and that is fine - as long as it is stated within the parenting plan.
The attorneys with Martoccio & Martoccio understand that your relationship with your child is of utmost importance. We will advocate on your behalf during your divorce to achieve a parenting agreement that works for you and your child. Schedule a consultation with a skilled Hinsdale, IL divorce attorney today by calling our law offices at 630-920-8855.