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Child custody and the right of first refusal

It is only natural that both a child's parents will want to play an active role in the upbringing of their child, even after a divorce. This means that oftentimes both parents in Illinois are awarded parenting time. However, what if, during one parent's parenting time, that parent must leave the child in the care of another for an extended period of time? The other parent may not feel it is fair to have a third-party care for his or her child, even if that time is not his or her normal parenting time. This is when the "right of first refusal" comes into play.

Under Illinois law, if both of a child's parents are awarded parenting time, the court may, if it is in the best interests of the child, give either or both parents the right of first refusal. This means that if a parent intends to have the child cared for by a substitute child-care provider, such as a nanny or child care center, for a significant period of time, that parent must first provide the other parent with the opportunity to care for the child during that time, even if it is not that parent's normal parenting time.

When granting the right of first refusal, the court will make provisions on the following. First, it will determine what length of time and child-care requirements must be present in order to invoke the right of first refusal. Second, it will determine how the parent will be notified of the right of first refusal and how that parent should make his or her response. Third, it will decide on the necessary transportation requirements. Finally, it will take any other action necessary in such situations to preserve the child's best interests.

When a child has two loving parents involved in his or her life, it can allow the child to grow up in a safe and nurturing environment. While parenting arrangements can be complex if the child's parents are divorced, there are ways to see that each parent spends a fair amount of time with the child. In the end, any child care decisions must be made with the best interests of the child in mind.

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Lake Bluff, IL 60044

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