It is beyond me why all divorce decrees do not have first right of refusal in them automatically, but they don't. Mine didn't, and then I had to negotiate to get it put in. Why? In my case, my ex left the kids on his weekend with a babysitter... more than once.
First right of refusal does not mean that your children can't have sleepovers when it is your time with them, or even spend quality time with Grandma and Grandpa. First right of refusal is when you can't be there to care for your kids for a certain amount of time when legally it is your visitation. It is when you have to either hire someone to take care of your children for you or farm them out during your visitation because you are not around or available, and I am not talking child care during the day, but overnight situations.
Is it better for the kids to be with a babysitter or an available parent? And isn't it only fair that the available parent have that first right of refusal, no matter whose visitation it is? After all, if you are the parent with possession, but can't be there, is it better to keep your kids with someone you know or the other parent?
I had an interesting talk with a friend about this. She does not want to give her ex this right, and he wants it. Why? Because she went out of town for a week and instead of leaving the kids with him, she left them with a nanny and her parents. Not that it isn't important for those children to spend time with the grandparents, but isn't it more important to spend time with the father?
I think so, and have always thought so. No matter how angry I have been at my ex, and I have been plenty angry at him, I still think the kids are better off with him if he can take them and I cannot. Of course, in a perfect world, every divorced couple is singing Kumbaya together and holding hands skipping through a field. We know this is not a reality.
But, do not punish the ex because of your anger, and don't punish the kids. If your ex is not a good person then in the end, it will come back and bite them in the nether regions. For those parents that want their kids when their ex isn't available, they should have that right to have them first, even if it isn't their "allotted" visitation time.
If you are insistent that you don't want your ex to have your kids during your time, even though you won't be there, then make your plans when you don't have your kids to begin with.