Hey, Rick…welcome to the club.
I understand that you feel torn right now with your decision about what to do for your kids. You mention in your posting that one of your main concerns is spending time and money, only to not get custody of your kids in the end. It’s interesting that you put it that way, because you may not realize it now, but you will most likely be putting in all kinds of time and money on this divorce from here on out.
You might as well spend your time and money on something of great importance to you…your kids! And invest NOW, not down the road when you get on with your life, and your soon-to-be ex decides that she is not pleased with the terms of the split. (Hey, it happens…especially when you get together with somebody else and are happy.) You are probably in a stronger negotiating stance than most DDs I know, since you suggest that the divorce is your wife’s idea; you actually may be dealing from a position of strength. She may be feeling some guilt along with that and may be willing now to let you take the actions that you feel in your gut are the right things to do for your kids: keep the house, stay in the same school, maintain some constancy.
If the X is already apprehensive about going it alone and needs to move closer to family for support, she may be relieved that you are willing to take the big step and stay put. You’ll probably realize in the months and years that follow that you are not now “getting over” the emotional heartache: it’s just beginning. All kinds of things that don’t seem important now may turn out to be a really big deal later on, and this decision your family has made will affect you for the rest of your life. Double that to your kids.
I don’t want to be overly dramatic or put out a lot of negative energy, but I would encourage you to continue to put your kids first and go with that gut instinct you have developed from investing so much time in them in the past. Always fight for your kids. That doesn’t necessarily mean you have to destroy your ex in the process…this doesn’t have to be a zero-sum game, although most people act that way. If you haven’t done so already, please read “Father’s Rights” by Jeffery M. Leving (or at least visit his website) for a pretty fair perspective on the situation at hand. Best of luck to you and your family always!