You and your wife have children. The two of you will need to make your best efforts to try to discuss and resolve the issues relating to the children. There are many issues to discuss.
I will discuss the various ways that you and your spouse can work through these child issues without going to court. You will avoid the stress and costs, both emotional and financial, of a custody battle in court. Going to court to resolve your custody matters will result in a judge who is a stranger to your family and kids, and who does not know the dynamics of your family or the specific needs of your children making critical decisions affecting your children until they are emancipated or graduate from high school. The other negative aspect of going to court to resolve custody issues is however much you try to shield your kids from the process, they will know you are in court fighting over them. This can cause your children emotional trauma, stress, anxiety, depression, uncertainty, and even self-blame and guilt that they caused your separation.
The two of you should try to sit down together and discuss children issues to try to reach agreement. This is a good option because you and your spouse know your children better than anyone else. You know their personalities, needs, desires, priorities, mental health, physical health, intellect, social issues, school performance, behavioral problems, goals, friends, extracurricular activities, to name just a few. If you are able to sit down with your spouse and have a productive, civil discussion on these matters and write down everything you discuss and agree upon, you will have done a great service for your kids. You will have done it in a cooperative manner. And will have saved money by not having the employ professionals. On the other hand, meeting and working with your spouse may be counterproductive and cause further discord.
In addition to meeting with your spouse, or if meeting with your spouse will be counterproductive, you and your spouse can try to find a qualified child psychologist or co-parent counselor to work through your child related issues. Make sure you chose the best child psychologist available. Your divorce attorney should know of goo and one who specializes in children going through divorce. The sessions may or may not be covered by health insurance. The child psychologist will work with you and your spouse to discuss the issues relating to the children. He or she will suggest specific areas that you need to address and resolve. He or she can even meet with your children to discuss their needs, desires, problems and issues, and what they want in terms of where they want to live, what type of visitation schedule will work best, and what resources they may need to maintain their mental health and reduce their stress levels. The great benefit of consulting with a child psychologist is that they have experience in handling families going through a divorce. Using his/her experience, the psychologist will come up with ideas and solutions that you probably would not even think about. He/she will come up with pragmatic solutions to your and your children’s issues. Also, you will be given strategies on how to better communicate with each other, to make decisions relating to the children in an amicable and collaborative manner, and to reduce conflict.