The Right of First Refusal
Parents who share custody of children will likely come across times when the parent who has custody needs to use childcare in order to work, socialize, or otherwise be away from home. During these times, the non-custodial person may wish to pick up a little extra time with the kids. While the right of first refusal (ROFR) is not written into Florida law with regard to custody, it is something that certainly can be contained in a divorce decree, or even simply agreed to by individuals who work well together. It basically means that the non-custodial parent will get first dibs on being with the kids whenever childcare is needed.
The clear advantages to ROFR are that it allows for flexible scheduling, and it frees up guilt- and cost-free time away for one co- parent, while providing additional time for the kids to spend time with their other co- parent.
The biggest problem with ROFR comes for parents who struggle with effective communication. When contact between co-parents is generally negative, unclear, or strained, it may be difficult (though not impossible) to pull off ROFR.
Obviously, working together to establish clear and effective communication strategies is the best way to minimize conflict. Keeping one another informed about tentative plans can help each parent prepare for possible time with the children. Another tip: giving the other parent as much notice as possible about the need for parental supervision duty. Finally, explaining changes that may be desirable in a way that optimizes the outcomes for all parties is usually a winning tactic. Whether communicating in person, through text, email, or phone calls, sticking to the necessary details and behaving cordially are important. There are even apps that can notify of calendar changes and give the other parent a time frame in which to claim the time for parenting before the person initiating the request seeks outside care. One such app worth investigating is the Trade/Swap function on the OurFamilyWizard Calendar.
Tips for Effective Communication
While communicating with a former spouse may not always be easy, it is clearly important when you share the responsibility of raising children together. Some things to think about include:
1- Practicing skills such as listening, problem solving, and examining multiple perspectives on issues.
2- Keeping emotions in check using breathing techniques and taking breaks from the conversation when it’s headed in the wrong direction. (Not by hanging up on an ex, but by saying you need a short break and will revisit the issue later.)
3- Scheduling regular check-ins with your co-parent to address any concerns before they become big problems.
4- Respecting one another.
5- Establishing and maintaining appropriate boundaries.
Making it Work
At WiseLieberman, our experienced Boca Raton divorce attorneys understand the challenges that come with divorce and are prepared to assist you in developing a parenting plan that works for you. To discuss, schedule a confidential consultation in our Boca Raton office today.