Monday, December 30, 2013

New "Right of First Refusal" law to effect in Illinois January 1, 2014

“Right of First Refusal” to take effect January 1, 2014.

Be mindful that changes are around the corner in Illinois with regard to parenting time in court orders. On May 22, 2013, the Illinois legislature unanimously passed the “Right of First Refusal” which amends the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act.

Taking effect January 1, 2014, the “Right of First Refusal” provides that if the court finds it is in the best interest of the child and awards joint custody or visitation rights, the court shall find that both parties have the right of first refusal to care for the minor children if the absence of either party is necessary during the party's normal parenting time. This gives both parents the opportunity for increased parenting time with the children.

The biggest impact the “Right of First Refusal” will have is on parents that do not have the children primarily residing at their residence or parents that have weekend visitation.  Since the use of baby-sitters, family members, or subsequent spouses is secondary to the right of first refusal, parents with weekend only visitation will now have increased opportunities to spend parenting time with their children. The amendment provides that whenever a parent intends to leave the children for a period of 4 hours or longer, that parent shall first offer the other parent an opportunity for additional time with the children before making other arrangements for the temporary care of the children. The court will take into consideration various factors such as transportation, distance, and time constraints which could make offering the additional parenting time impracticable in certain situations.

Also important to note, parties may agree to add a right of first refusal provision to their Joint Parenting Agreement, but if they do not and the court determines that a right of first refusal is in the best interest of the children, the court will consider and make provisions in its order for specified considerations relating to the right of first refusal. The changes to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act regarding the “Right of First Refusal” are only applicable to divorces where both parties are awarded joint custody. The “Right of First Refusal” does not apply to parties that have had their visitation rights terminated.

For questions on how the “Right of First Refusal” can impact you, feel free to contact our Des Plaines law office at (847) 813-6011.