I agree with Athos that in the joint custody situation. I’ve seen couples who try to wait to put this into affect thinking to give the children adjustment time, but the truth is, the longer you allow a situation to continue the more difficult it is to change. That’s true for more than just the custody. It will take a while once you do leave to figure out boundaries. Your spouse has the right once you leave to change the locks and not allow you access to the home, so take everything you need when you leave and get a separation agreement drawn up for the other stuff.
Children adapt better than you would imagine. My stepsons found it easier to deal when they learned that most of the children they are friends with have a step parent or are in the same situation with their biological parents not being together. If you left today, make sure in writing that your spouse and the children know that you will be getting them on Monday for the week. The point is to know your rights before you leave.
You can’t worry about what the neighbors, friends or family think. Other than the children, you can only worry about yourself. They no longer will be your neighbors. Your friends and your family will know the truth, if not immediately then after a short time. The spouse’s family, will of course be on their side. Don’t expect any less that loyalty from the spouse’s family and friends regardless of what is said. Find one person that you can discuss yourself with, family, friend, or pastor and do not discuss everything with anyone else. That one person should be on your side. You need to be able to go over separation and custody details with that person. This person should be objective enough to have you and the children’s best interest in mind when giving you advice.
Be careful what you say about or to the spouse. My husband told his ex that maybe it was a mistake to begin dating (me) so early after his separation. She took that to mean that he would quit seeing me…as you may note, that did not happen and it did NOT go over well with her.
Remember this; no one else will have to live with this. You and your spouse and your children are the only ones that will truly be dealing with this situation. Not the attorneys, not the judge, not your friends or family (unless your living arrangments include them) or co-workers. In the long run, you and your children are the only ones that you are responsible for just as your spouse is only responsible their self and the children. You do what is right for you and your children, make sure they are taken care of and protected and you’ll see that things will work out how they are supposed to. I will keep you in my thoughts.