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Right Of First Refusal

This is the first of weekly blogs from Abramovitch Blalock & McKinnon, LLC. We hope to provide a place you can visit for interesting information about recent developments in Illinois family law, changes in the Court systems of Cook and collar counties as well as our comments on important issues involving Illinois family law.

As of January 1, 2014, there is a new Illinois law concerning “the right of first refusal”. This is a common issue in cases involving children. A typical situation is when a parent (for this example, the Mother) is scheduled to be with the children pursuant to a divorce decree or order. If, for some reason, she is unable to be with them at that time and the other parent (here, the Father) is available, should the Mother be allowed to place the children with a babysitter or another third person like a grandparent, without contacting the Father.

It sounds simple. However, this situation often leads to problems. What if the Mother is only going to be unavailable for one hour? If the Father has the right of first refusal, does this interfere with the Mother’s right to live her post-divorce life without unnecessary interference from the Father? Does it lead to prying and questioning of one parent on the other?

Some parents decide to limit the right of first refusal to absences of a specific period of time or to overnight situations. Some eliminate the idea and let the parent with the children make arrangements in the event she is unavailable.

The Court may now award this right to one or both parents based on the best interests of the child. This right would be enforced in the event that the Mother (in our example) would be using another person to watch the children for a “significant period of time”. The Court will also consider issues of notification and transportation in determining if it will order this right.

There is now an Illinois law dealing with the right of first refusal. It is Public Act 098-0462. http://www.ilga.gov/legislation/publicacts/fulltext.asp?Name=098-0462