Lawyers and the court system will NOT protect your kids as well as you can; provided that you are interested in their best interests and can act rationally.
What is experienced by children of divorce in childhood resonates and reverberates into adulthood – and, not in a good way.
Many clients and friends going through divorce or separation look to their children for emotional support or as source of love or as an ally in their disputes with their ex-spouses. NOT GOOD! A parent should NOT put their children in this position. The kids do not deserve this and it will only compound their fear and anger, no matter how mature they may seem to the emotionally fragile parent. Any exercise in parental alienation (where one parent bad mouths or denigrates the other parent) will come back to haunt the parent engaging in such behaviour. It is much better to take the high road and put the best face on a tough situation. It will take self-sacrifice and strength in overcoming the pain a parent is suffering. In the long run, the children will appreciate the effort and be better off.
It is not an easy path for a parent to suppress their ego, loneliness and hurt in this situation. However, there is light at the end of the tunnel. By keeping the relationship civil, if not friendly, with the other parent, there is the possibility of retaining some of the special moments of the old family unit (whether it's birthday parties, religious holidays or special dinners). Romantic relationships can come and go (ask the French!), but, the parent/child relationship is for life and worth being especially careful. A parent going through separation or divorce MUST suck it up and be the parent that their child needs and deserves. A good parent needs to be supportive, interested and loving towards the child. It truly is about what the parent can do for the child, not the other way around. This is basic.
I am divorced; my parents were divorced; my ex-wife’s parents were divorced; divorce happens. The legal system is not the best system to resolve emotional conflict or family conflict. For an informed approach, someone going through a family breakup should speak to someone knowledgeable about different approaches. While nothing may put Humpty Dumpty back together again, a hammer may not be the best tool for a patch job or a smoothing effort.
You want peace and harmony. To get it, you may need the advice of someone with the right experience.