When parents divorce, one of the questions they often have to work out is, “Who gets the babysitter?” Child care professionals typically recommend that if it’s feasible, they keep their current babysitter and ask them to care for their child in both homes. This means one less change for a child. If their babysitter is someone they’ve grown to care about, having that consistent presence in their life can be good for them.
Of course, that only works if co-parents continue to live in the same area. Even a ten-mile drive may be more than a high school or college student wants to take on. If you’ve relied on someone in your family, like a grandparent or even an older cousin, to babysit your child, it might be too awkward for everyone if that person were to take care of your child at an ex-in-law’s home.
What questions should you discuss?
Whether you’re choosing one or more new sitters or you’re keeping the same one, you and your co-parent will still need to work out some details so that you can minimize confusion and conflict for everyone involved. For example:
- How will the babysitter(s) be paid, and how does that cost factor into your child support agreement?
- What rules do you want the sitter(s) to enforce in both of your homes?
- What do you want the sitter(s) to say – and not say – if your child asks them questions about your divorce?
- Do you both need to approve any regular babysitter brought in by your co-parent?
Most of these questions should be discussed even if your caregivers are going to be family members.
Right of first refusal
Another important factor to consider while you’re discussing babysitters is whether you want to have a right of first refusal clause in your parenting plan. This requires each parent to give the other one the opportunity to care for their child before they call in someone else. For example, if you have to work late during a week when you have custody of your child, you’d ask your co-parent if they can take them for the evening before you call the sitter or ask a neighbor to come over.
With experienced legal guidance, you can learn more about how the right of first refusal works as well as how best to handle third-party caregiver expectations in your parenting plan.