As someone who is going through a separation at the moment, here are my observations:
- JA only cares about what is good for the child (the clue is in the name really) and they do want to help. So, get them involved early and ensure that whenever you talk to them, it is clear that you want to be a good parent. For heaven's sake, do not bad mouth the other parent in front of JA or your child. Make all your conversations with them child-centric. Involve the Erzeihungs und Familienberatung as well. Talk to them early and voice your concerns about the impact on your kid due to the impending separation/divorce. These are your allies if you can convince them that the child would benefit from having you in their lives.
- 50/50 physical custody (wechselmodell) is becoming more and more popular. However, for very young children it is not the norm as they are more dependent on the mother. Also, the initial arrangement might be difficult to change on the grounds of continuing what seems to work.
- The lawyers and mediators would like to get an out of court settlement. No one wants you to go to court, including the judges. Sometimes your ex might not listen to you as you are enemy #1, but he/she might listen to her lawyer. So let the lawyers talk but tell your lawyer where you draw the line. For example, I said I will compromise on the financial bit and support more than I have to but want 50/50 physical custody.
- Family law seems not to be very popular among judges. So, the more experienced (older) judges are working other domains. So, it is full of young and progressive judges. So, your change to get 50/50 custody is higher than you think, if you did go to court.
- It is an emotionally draining experience. Take some time to take care of yourself as well. Breaking away from someone, who you have probably been most intimate with, is hard.