Even if you know your divorce is the right decision for your personal wellbeing, you may have some regrets. Probably the biggest regret is that your divorce will divide the time you will spend with your children. You may expect to obtain a fair enough custody ruling in Arizona family court, or perhaps you and your spouse will work together to come up with as equal parenting time as possible.
Nevertheless, there are going to be days and evenings when the house will seem too quiet and your heart will ache just to hear the kids bickering again. While you may not be able to have your children as often as you would like after the divorce, there is a way to increase the time your custody arrangement allows.
Understanding first refusal rights
In addition to the hours, days or weeks of parenting time your divorce ruling provides, you can request that your custody agreement allow you the right of first refusal. First refusal means your children’s other parent must ask you first if you can watch the kids when he or she is unable to. In other words, before calling a babysitter, grandparent or daycare provider, your spouse must call you to see if you are available to take the kids. Some important facts about first refusal include the following:
- Your agreement may stipulate that your ex must contact you first if the children will need an alternate caregiver for more than a certain period of time, for example, three hours.
- First refusal may allow you to take children to medical appointments, sports practice or other events when the other parent has a schedule conflict and you are available.
- Without the right of first refusal, you may lose valuable time with your children while they are in the care of others who have no legal custodial rights.
- If your ex takes your children to an alternate caregiver without contacting you first, he or she will be in contempt of court if you have first refusal rights.
Right of first refusal goes both ways. If you have custody of the children and must look for alternate care for them, you will have to contact your ex first to see if he or she is available to watch them. With such a clause in your custody agreement, both you and the other parent can maximize the time you spend with your children.