One of the most difficult adjustments many divorced parents have to make is not knowing who’s around their child while their co-parent has custody or visitation. How much say do you have in who is allowed to be at your co-parent’s home when your child is there? What about who can pick them up and return them for exchanges or take them to school and other activities? Can you control who can babysit them during your co-parent’s custody time?
Typically, unless you have evidence that someone in your co-parent’s life is a threat to your child’s safety or well-being, you can’t forbid them from being around your child. If you do have such evidence, you can seek a court order to protect your child.
What restrictions can you seek in your parenting plan?
You can ask for provisions in your parenting plan to limit things like whether a new romantic interest can spend the night while your child is in the home. Just remember that these restrictions typically apply to both parents.
You can also include provisions about who else is allowed to drop off or pick up your child for custody exchanges or visits. Some parents limit this to family members or just each other.
The right of first refusal can help with this issue
If you’re concerned about who your co-parent might ask to care for your child if they have to work late or go out during their custody time, you can seek what’s known as the “right of first refusal.” This is typically reciprocal.
It means that if a parent must arrange for someone else to care for the child, they need to give their co-parent the opportunity to do so before they can call anyone else. If you include this provision in your parenting plan, it’s wise to have some ground rules – like providing a certain amount of notice unless it’s an emergency.
An alternative might be to have a list of designated caregivers you both know and trust. This might include grandparents, aunts and uncles, mutual friends or a long-time babysitter,
A detailed parenting plan can help prevent confusion. However, parents should ask themselves whether they’re concerned for their child’s well-being or want to control their ex. With experienced legal guidance, you can craft a parenting plan that focuses on what’s best for your child.