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Should you insist on first right of refusal?

You want to spend as much time as possible with your child. The courts take this into consideration when determining the custody schedule, but a judge will consider the best interests of the child first and foremost. One major factor is ensuring both parents have enough time to develop and maintain a strong parent-child relationship.

What if your former spouse has a busy life, traveling for work or frequently attending social events? He or she is not cultivating a parent-child relationship during these times, so why should your child remain “with” that parent when he or she is unavailable?

First right of refusal

You may be able to address this issue and receive more parenting time if you include a first right of refusal clause in your parenting plan.

According to the Michigan Courts, one parenting time option is that one of the parents should always have the right to be the first childcare alternative if the other parent cannot be with the child during his or her parenting time. So, if your spouse goes out of town or spends the day with friends, and before he or she can call a grandparent and ask if your child can stay for several hours or overnight, he or she has to call you first.

A word of warning

You may not want to insist that your child comes to you every time your former spouse is busy. Keeping your child from visiting grandparents or other extended family may backfire. KidsHealth notes that extended family relationships are important for developing a sense of family heritage and cultural history. As long as the environment is safe and healthy, you may not want to object to a longer visit.

Always insisting that your child stays with you instead of visiting a grandparent may also cause your former spouse to become more demanding. He or she could begin insisting that your child never spend time with your family while you are busy during your parenting time.