First right of refusal is an agreement between parents that if one of them will be absent from the child for a specified amount of time, that parent will contact the other parent and offer them the chance to be with the child before arranging for a baby sitter. This term or concept is not found anywhere in the Texas Family Code. So, judges in Tarrant County rarely order the "first right of refusal" after a trial. If the parties want language about this in their Final Decree of Order, they most likely need to agree to include that provision.
If parents want that language in their divorce decrees, they most likely need to include this provision. However parents often want that language in their agreements to maximize their time spent with the child.
When is "first right of refusal" language not appropriate?
- If the parents do not get along and the relationship is a high conflict one.
- If there has been family violence
- If parents do not communicate well.
- If parents live far apart.
Another potential pitfall with "first right of refusal" is that it will allow each parent to know what the other parent is doing in his/her personal life. That may become too intrusive eventually.
One option is to agree that if a parent will be away for a long period, like overnight, the other parent gets the "first right of refusal" to keep the child.
"First right of refusal" can be a great tool for parents in the right situation. However, think through all the potential scenarios before agreeing to "first right of refusal."