If you are a parent whose time with your child has been limited due to a divorce, it can be very difficult for you to maintain the relationship with your child that you wish to have. This may be especially true if the other parent has been granted a majority of the parenting time and you only see your child a few days each month. Illinois law, however, allows parents in such a situation to include provisions in their parenting plan that could create extra parenting time opportunities under certain circumstances.
Defining the Right of First Refusal
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA), your parenting plan should address what is called “the right of first refusal” regarding your child. If you have the right of first refusal, it means that the other parent must contact you and offer you the opportunity to care for your child if the other parent would otherwise need to find a sitter or alternative childcare. Depending on how your parenting plan is structured, you may be required to offer the same opportunity to the other parent if and when you need someone to care for your child. It is important to note that including the right of first refusal in your parenting plan does not obligate you to accept every such opportunity; the right of first refusal refers to optional additional parenting time.
Setting the Parameters
If the right of first refusal is going to be a part of your parenting plan, specific rules on how it will be utilized need to be determined. One element is the duration. For example, will the other parent need to call and offer the right if he or she only has a two-hour meeting after work one day? Or, will the right of first refusal be reserved for longer periods such as overnights or a certain minimum number of hours?...