As difficult as it is to go through a divorce, no one has a harder time adapting than your kids. Going from a home with two parents to just one is hard enough without wondering whether or not both their parents still love them. To help them make it through the transition more easily there are both legal and personal things you can do to reduce the emotional strain.
Separate Custody Hearing
While some states do allow child custody to be included in the final divorce decree, it's better for everyone involved if you separate the issue into a dedicated proceeding. This can make it easier for you and your spouse to remove your feelings about each other from the matter, but some effort on your part is still necessary. Before going into the process, put matters from the divorce out of your mind and focus on coming to an agreement that is most beneficial for your children. Speak with your family law attorney about helping you with this process.
Set reasonable dates, time frames and standards for your spouse to live up to, rather than making requirements for visitation punitive. Remember that you've been awarded primary physical custody, so don't demand that the responsibility you won be lightened with more frequent visitation. Make the visitation schedule one that everyone can live with, rather than something designed to set your former spouse up to fail, such as every weekend or alternating whole weeks. If you and your spouse live a short enough distance apart this might be manageable, but that should be the exception not the rule.
Mind Your Manners
Nothing in any court document is going to tell you to like your former spouse, but being antagonistic, rude or intentionally evasive won't benefit anyone. Even if you can't be nice, you can at least be civil and speak with respect in front of your kids. Conflict will arise, but putting it on display where your children can see it will only make the transition harder on everyone.
Avoid discussions of court ordered support payments where your kids can hear it, regardless of the nature of those payments. If it becomes a serious issue, turn it over to the proper authorities rather than getting into a screaming match with your ex-spouse. The best thing you can do for your kids during the first few months is to treat it like a business partnership, and do everything in your power to help that business to thrive.
In most cases, children go through the same level of stress, fear, frustration and anger during a divorce as their parents. Your choices will have a powerful impact on how they cope with those feelings, and how well they recover once a new routine has been established.