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Illinois to be first in nation with ‘right of refusal’ visitation

Illinois to be first in nation with 'right of refusal' visitation

We have previously written in this blog about changes to child custody laws making their way through the Illinois Legislature. One bill recently passed by Illinois legislators is the so-called Right of First Refusal bill, making it the first state to officially add this type of visitation order to a parenting plan. The bill has passed both houses of the Legislature. If it receives the governor's signature, the bill will become part of the state's Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

The legislation basically states that if a parent needs someone to supervise the children, the parent must first give the other parent the opportunity. This gives the second parent a chance for additional parenting time with the kids when the other parent technically has custody.

It's important to note that the enforcement of right of first refusal is at the discretion of the court. A judge will consider what's in the best interest of the child, as well as other variables such as how far apart the parents live and whether or not a parent has been denied visitation in the past.

Once a judge rules that right of first refusal is appropriate in a certain case, other specific provisions will be outlined. For example, the court would decide the types of situations where it would come into play, such as the length of time the parent will be gone. The judge will also stipulate factors such as how much advance notice the parent with primary custody must give the other parent, how quickly the other parent will need to respond to the request, and who must provide transportation.

The primary benefit of the new bill is that it provides additional time for the parent without primary custody. More direct contact with both parents has obvious benefits for the child and parents. This bill provides the opportunity for non-custodial parents to remain involved to a higher degree. An experienced divorce and child custody attorney can help parents ensure visitation is fair and that this bill is enforced, when appropriate.

Source: National Parents Organization, “Illinois' 'Right of First Refusal' unanimously passes both houses,” Robert Ferrer, June 5, 2013

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