Children are a financial asset. Joint custody will mean less time with the children and less or no child support.
I am all for both parents maintaining a relationship with their children post divorce. I believe it is good for the children and the parents. Oftentimes it is during the separation that the working parent starts developing a relationship with the children, and the stay-at-home parent is no longer the buffer between the child and the working parent’s relationship. This can be very difficult emotionally for the parent who has historically been the primary caregiver. If you are going to go into this type of arrangement during separation, you need to let the children become the responsibility of the working parent when the children are with him/her. You should not maintain being “the driver,” taking the children to and from their activities. You do not stay the caretaker at all times. You must allow the other parent to find out what these responsibilities really look like – day after day.
Use this time to work on yourself. If you haven’t worked outside the home for a few years, start working on your career plan. See a career advisor early in your process to find out what kind of work you could and want to do. Maybe you need to go back to school and get re-trained. Maybe you can find some part time work to improve your skills. Start getting prepared to have the children only part time. I am seeing a growing trend for this type of joint custody and sharing of the parenting responsibilities between parents.
If you are living in a house that is too expensive for you, this is the time to start looking for alternative housing. Ideally, you and your ex-spouse will live in the same general neighborhood to make the care taking of the children easier for everyone. This is under the assumption that both of you love your children and put their welfare before your personal disagreements. You have an opportunity to create a win/win for each other and your children.
Marriage is not a life sentence in our society. Maintenance does not tend to be long term and child support is only part of the long term solution.
Mediation is a good way to resolve parenting issues. Combine this with financial planning during the divorce and you can create a workable post divorce plan for everyone.