11/12/2013 06:01 pm ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

What Not To Do If Your Spouse Denies You Parenting Time

"If I can't see our kid, then you're not getting any money from me!" - a common post-divorce refrain.

After divorce, parents sometimes fail to play fair. They fail to act like adults and in turn, fail to keep in mind what is best for the children.

This often occurs when one parent, for whatever reason, fails to relinquish a child to another parent when parenting time begins and ends, or it can happen when one parent is not able to or refuses to pay child support.

However, this does not mean that parenting time denial and child support go hand in hand.

The hard reality is this: if your ex interfered with your ability to have your parenting time, you cannot stop paying child support. One is not dependent on the other, and the courts will look down upon any action that purports to make the two coincide.

Similarly, if your ex fails to make a child support payment to you, then you cannot prevent your ex from having scheduled parenting time.

Again, they are mutually exclusive issues that need to be addressed separately.

Sadly, disputes over parenting time often cannot be resolved without court intervention. You should not take matters into your own hands legally.

A common response to one parent's inability to allow parenting time is to retaliate with the withholding of child support and vice versa. These actions, however, are in contempt of the court and in the worst of scenarios you could find yourself in jail for doing them.

You must have the court's permission to deal with the refusal before commencing any retaliatory process. This can be easier said than done considering that every day you wait for the court to address the issue is another day you are away from your children.

As a practical matter, then, how can you most efficiently and speedily address a parent who is failing to abide by a court order that awards you certain parenting time?

My first suggestion is to talk to your ex-spouse.

Yes, I can hear the objections and understand completely your belief that talking to your ex would be absolutely useless because the two of you haven't been able to talk civilly since the divorce.

But, trying to reach an agreement is far more cost-effective than hiring a divorce attorney to file a motion to enforce a parenting time order and is a great deal faster than waiting for a hearing date for the court to address the wrong that occurred.

As parents, you are stuck together in one respect for the rest of your life even after divorce; you are parents of a child or children and you will end up sharing in the life events that they experience in the future.

You might as well start trying to reason with the other parent now, as it can be a great exercise for the graduations, weddings, holidays, and births of grandchildren you will surely share.

What it all boils down to is communication. Yes, that very concept that you and your ex couldn't grasp during the marriage.

Try to communicate, reason, and candidly advise your ex that you are willing to take this to court but would rather deal with it on your own terms. Write a letter stating your intentions to work things out civilly.

At least then, if your efforts fail, you arrive to court safe in the knowledge that you were the parent who was acting like the adult and putting the interest of your children first.

Your model behavior will greatly enhance your case. This is especially true if your ex-spouse has not held him/herself to such high standards.