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Salt Lake City – Ogden – Lehi

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Divorced parents in Utah should understand right of first refusal

Utah parents spending more time at home may desire more time with their children. Using right of first refusal can benefit kids and parents.

With the recent massive shift in the world and its impact on employment, many parents in Utah are now either working from home or spending more time at home. This shift may also prompt a change in availability of the parents, allowing them to spend more time with their kids rather than hiring a babysitter or having their child watched by a friend or relative. The provisions stated in Utah Code Annotated § 30-3-33 are often incorporated into a parenting plan to address additional issues with more specificity and should be reviewed. Parents can enforce the right of first refusal to spend more time with their shared children.

Defining right of first refusal

Parental care is presumed to be better care for the child than surrogate care (daycare, babysitter, friend, or relative), and the court encourages parents to cooperate in allowing the other parent, if willing and able to transport the child, to provide the child care. If a parent believes they may be available to exercise parent-time when the other parent would have to leave the child with a surrogate, then the right of first refusal may beneficial. Right of first refusal is usually designated to be triggered after a practical period of time, such as three or four hours. This does not mean the other parent has no choice but to watch the child. Instead, it means the other parent has the right to refuse first before another party receives a request.

Benefits & disadvantages of right of first refusal

One of the biggest benefits of the right of first refusal is it allows parents to spend more quality time with their kids. Right of first refusal is also intended to minimize child care costs. Parents must also be aware of the pitfalls of the right of first refusal. Parents who struggle to communicate with each other may have a hard time reaching out to ask for help. Parents who have a contentious relationship may not want the other parent to have additional parent-time. A right of first refusal is almost always reciprocal, so a parent must take into consideration that they would have to inform the other parent if they were going to use surrogate care for the child.

Making the most of the right of first refusal

No matter how strained a relationship is, there are ways to maximize the right of first refusal and avoid arguments. Parents should keep each other informed of dates and times where they need child care arrangements. Using a shared calendar may work for parents who want to keep communication to a minimum.

Fathers and mothers spending more time at home may want to review and enforce their parenting plan. Working with a Utah legal professional when obtaining a divorce better ensures a well-thought-out strategy for parent-time issues including the right of first refusal.