Of course, the best thing you and your ex can do is settle your child custody issue between yourselves. To do this, you must be honest with each other. You also should have a sense of where your kids are emotionally, and what the strengths and weaknesses of each family member are.
It is hard to be objective about your ex. If his / her bad personality aspects are more prevalent than his / her good ones, it is even harder to imagine him or her as a positive presence in your child’s life. However, if you distance yourself from what went wrong in your marriage and focus on your child’s perspective, you should be able to think of your ex’s parenting skills objectively. You will find that the two relationships are separate, and of an entirely different quality.
What matters to a judge in a custody settlement is that both parents have appropriate opportunities to be active in the child’s life. It won’t matter if he or she engaged in activities which lead to the destruction of the marriage. As long as his swearing fidelity to the G-d of Rain and Sun doesn’t affect how he treats the kids on a daily basis, the court won’t take his weird religious beliefs into account in awarding custody and visitation. Even if she had an affair that lead to the divorce, the judge won’t hold it against her if her time with her lover didn’t take away from her parental duties.
In short, before you go into settlement talks with your ex, think of how knowing him or her benefits your kids. Unless you have good reason to believe that he or she will physically abuse the kids because of past events, you should reconcile yourself to the fact that the judge will grant him or her visitation, and possibly even custody, if your concerns don’t have a lot to do with your children’s welfare.
If you can’t sit together and talk calmly, you may have to hire a child custody evaluator to investigate your child rearing differences. You will fare better in this kind of intervention if you can marshal your thoughts in such a way as to give your ex and his / her parenting skills the benefit of the doubt. The evaluator and the judge will be much more impressed if you recognize the other parent’s abilities than they will be if you can’t separate your pain from your children’s need for two parents.