Attorney Todd Dwire speaking with staff member in conference room

We See The Big Picture In Family Law

Addressing poor childcare choices in a co-parenting scenario

On Behalf of | Apr 15, 2024 | Child Custody |

Married couples and those cohabitating with romantic partners have immediate support for childcare challenges. If they are ill or get caught up at work one afternoon, they can rely on their spouse or partner to take care of the children. After a divorce or breakup, each parent becomes solely responsible for the children during their parenting time.

A parent bound by a custody order may worry about the childcare choices that their co-parent makes. For example, if someone has just begun dating again, they might ask their romantic partner to watch their children. They might also leave the children in the care of their elderly parents or a sibling who has a history of substance abuse issues.

How can a concerned parent in Minnesota protect their children from the questionable childcare choices made by their children’s other parent?

With the right of first refusal

Custody orders often include a variety of special terms that only apply in unique situations. Typically, parents give up their authority when the children are with the other adult. Co-parents cannot micromanage what the children do during parenting time or who provides childcare support when the children are with the other adults in the household.

In scenarios where a parent worries that their co-parent may leave the children with someone negligent or volatile, they can add a clause ensuring the right of first refusal to their parenting plan. This clause requires that the other parent reach out if they intend to leave the child with anyone else during their parenting time. Provided that the other parent is able to care for the children, they can prevent their co-parent from putting the children in daycare or leaving them with an unsuitable adult.

With legal action, in rare cases

Perhaps the family already has a custody agreement without the right of first refusal included. One parent may become concerned about the childcare choices of the other. They could potentially take the matter back to court to request a custody modification. In rare scenarios where there is a provable history of negligence or domestic violence on the part of a childcare provider, the courts might modify a custody order to prohibit one parent from leaving the children alone with a specific individual. Other times, parents could seek a modification to the existing order that extends the right of first refusal to keep the children out of questionable childcare environments.

Setting the right custody terms is crucial for the protection of children in shared custody scenarios. Parents who know how to handle unique challenges can be better advocates for the safety and well-being of their children.


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