Across the board, Illinois law recognizes that children need both of their parents involved in their lives. Therefore, when Rockford parents wind up in separate homes, Illinois family courts will generally want to make sure the child spends time with one parent or the other as much as possible.
Consistent with this principle, Illinois recognizes what family law attorneys call the right of first refusal. The right of first refusal is basically the prerogative of the other parent, that is the one not currently seeing the children, to watch over and care for the children when one parent cannot do so during his or her parenting time.
The right of first refusal is not absolute, as a judge must first find it is in the best interests of the child, assuming of course the parents disagree about whether it should apply. While courts will consider certain legal factors when determining a child’s best interests, on a practical level, considerations that may come to the forefront are the availability of other parent and whether doing a right of first refusal would create instability due to a tense relationship with parents.
Assuming the court decides to grant a right of first refusal to either parent, the court and then decide if any limitations or modifications should apply. An example might be that the court will only require a right of first refusal if one of the other child’s close relatives, like a grandparent, cannot watch the child.
The right of first refusal is an easy part of a child custody case to overlook, but it is a valuable opportunity for parents to spend extra time with their children and, for that matter, to increase cooperation with each other.