Like most North Carolina parents, you want to spend as much time as possible with your children. Now that you and your spouse are planning to go your separate ways, you want to make sure that you do what you can to get it.
As part of the child custody portion of the divorce proceedings, you and the other parent decide to work together to create a parenting plan tailored for your family. While you negotiate a parenting time schedule as part of your plan, there may be a way to give you extra time with your children.
Factor in the right of first refusal
No matter how well planned out your parenting time is, you or the other parent may not be able to spend all of your visitation time with the children. If you have a job, you may need to work late. If you have other obligations within your community, they could take you away for a time. When these events came up during your marriage, you may have hired a babysitter, used a day care, or left your kid with friends or family. One of your work schedules could change, causing conflicts with your parenting time arrangements.
Now that you are divorcing, you may want to take advantage of these times. You could let the other parent know that you want the right of first refusal. This means that any time your future former spouse would need to leave the children with someone else during his or her parenting time, you get the first call to take care of them.
What happens if my ex-spouse doesn’t comply?
If you are working out your parenting plan outside of the courtroom, each of you will need to agree to abide by the right of first refusal clause. If you are going through the court, you can request this clause in your custody agreement, and if the court agrees, again, it becomes binding on both of you.
Yes, your children should spend time with grandparents, cousins and other extended family as long as doing so does not endanger your children, but they don’t have the same legal rights to see your children, if any. You do, however. Your parental rights supersede those of any extended family or friends. If the other parent fails to comply with this agreement, you can return to court to enforce it.