parenting time

What Is the Right of First Refusal in a New Jersey Child Custody Agreement?

If you live in New Jersey and are divorcing your spouse or ending your partnership and you share children, you must reach a child custody agreement. Designating parenting time can become complicated, especially if you need to travel or otherwise be out of town for a few days or longer. The right of first refusal subsequently comes into play. Learn what family lawyers in New Jersey want you to know about this right, as you might need to modify your current custody agreement. 

What is the Right of First Refusal, Exactly? 

When you share custody of the children and need to be away for a certain amount of time, the right of first refusal states that you must ask your former partner if they will watch the kids. 

Asking a babysitter, sibling, or another family member to look after the children without contacting the other parent violates the right of first refusal and can result in legal repercussions. The former partner can either watch the children or decline the request, allowing you to contact a nanny or other caregiver. 

The right of first refusal is designed to keep children in their parents’ care and maintain the parent-child bond despite divorce proceedings. Some children who spend more time with babysitters, nannies and other caregivers than their parents can exhibit poor social skills and aggressive behavior. This is usually due to the resentment and anger they feel. 

Do you have questions about child custody? Call our family lawyers in New Jersey at Zeigler Law Group, LLC.

Advantages of the Right of First Refusal

Family lawyers in New Jersey frequently cite the healthy co-parenting dynamic the right of first refusal creates. It helps the parents spend as much time with their children as possible without feeling like the other is “trampling” on their parenting time and therefore spending more hours with the kids than they do. 

Jealous feelings typically lessen as a result. Co-parents often learn how to communicate in ways that do not upset the children and provide good examples of mature adults. This right encourages healthy parent-child relationships that help children mature into well-rounded, secure, social adults. 

Children have the chance to play more games with their parents, spend extra time outdoors, talk about their feelings and concerns, watch movies, and enjoy plenty of hugs. One-on-one time fosters special parent-child relationships where both parties learn more about each other and what makes them special. 

Disadvantages of the Right of First Refusal

While there are many reasons to move forward with the right of first refusal in your custody agreement, there are a few disadvantages to keep in mind. If you and your former partner cannot agree on set rules for the children, such as how much candy they can eat, how much television they can watch, whether they are allowed to have cell phones or tablets, and how late they can stay up, the right of first refusal can heighten tension and cause further disagreements. 

This right also causes problems if the former partners are not in communication. No communication between former partners typically occurs because of infidelity, verbal and psychological abuse, and physical abuse. A parent who leaves the state or country without providing contact information also creates serious communication challenges. 

And while full custody is usually granted to one parent if the other is a danger to the other parent and children or otherwise not available, this is not necessarily true of infidelity. Both parents might be granted custody and experience communication issues that stress the children and interfere with parenting time. 

Different Types of First Refusals

The right of first refusal comes in several forms, including: 

  • Right of refusal to care for children who will be separated from the custodial parent for several hours. 
  • Right of refusal to care for one or more children who will be away from the custodial parent for one night. 
  • Right of refusal concerns the parent caring for the child or children, not how many hours or days the kids will be away. 

The third type is the least common. 

What Happens if One Parent Wants a Right of First Refusal and the Other Does Not? 

If you want to include the Right of First Refusal in your custody agreement and your former partner is against it, you can do one of two things:

  1. The first is to agree to keep the right of first refusal out of your custody agreement. 
  2. The second is to gather evidence showing the right is best for the children. 

Such evidence can include your home’s proximity to your former partner’s and video or written statements from the children discussing their love for both parents. Your former partner’s home might also be close to the kids’ school, friends’ houses, or attractions they enjoy, such as movie theaters and playgrounds. The judge will review your evidence to determine if the right of first refusal is what’s best for your family. 

Contact A New Jersey Family Law Attorney Today

The right of first refusal is a way to protect your parenting time. If you are going through a divorce, ending a partnership, experiencing child custody issues or need to modify your current plan, contact Zeigler Law Group, LLC. Our family lawyers in New Jersey are here to help you navigate your divorce with as little stress as possible. Call 732-361-4827 today or contact the team online to get started.

Contact Zeigler Law Group, LLC
Today To Get Started

Sonya K, Zeigler, Esq. and her team have a well-earned reputation for committed and fierce legal representation. Our firm is here to provide you with the best possible guidance. Call Zeigler Law Group, LLC, at 732-361-4827 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Tom’s River, Red Bank, Princeton, and Mount Laurel, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout the surrounding areas.

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