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Right of first refusal in child custody matters in Illinois


Many parents in Illinois have joint custody of their children. Even if the parents do not have joint child custody arrangements, most times, the non-custodial parent still receives visitation with the children. Generally, the parents have a visitation schedule that states when the children will be with each parent on a regular basis. Once ordered, each parent is required to follow it.

However, there are many instances when the parent has the children, but needs to work or leave the house for a significant period of time. Depending on the age of the children, that parent will need to find someone to watch the children while he or she is gone. For these types of situations, if it is in the best interests of the child, the judge can grant each parent the right of first refusal.

This legal concept means that if the parent who is caring for the children needs to find someone to watch the children while he or she is gone from the home, he or she must first ask the other parent if he or she is able to care for them before asking another person to watch the children. However, this rule does not apply in emergency situations. Also, the parents can agree to or a judge can order certain parameters regarding the situations when the right of first refusal must be utilized. These parameters can include a length of time the parent will need child care prior to invoking the right, who will transport the children and other issues deemed necessary to resolve the situation.

Child custody and visitation orders in Illinois can be very rigid, but life is not lived that way. Things come up and sometimes parents are not able to watch their children the entire time that they are present in their homes. Therefore, Illinois law allows parents to utilize the right of first refusal to try and ensure that one of the parents is watching the children as much as possible. Child custody attorneys understand visitation schedules and may be a useful resource for one going through the process.

Source: Illinois General Assembly, Illinois Compiled Statutes, Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, "750 ILCS 5/602.3" accessed May 18, 2015

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