The first and most important step to getting custody of your child(ren) is to be a great parent and to be honest. Being a great parent is not always the easiest task during divorce, but it is important to acknowledge each and every action concerning the divorce and how it may or may not effect the child(ren).
You and your spouse should try to amicably decide the custody arrangements of the child(ren) and what the visitation schedule should be without the help of the court. If you spend the time discussing the issue, with the child(ren)'s best interest in mind, hopefully you both will be able to arrive at a custody arrangement that is superior than that which the court would initiate.
If you are in a situation that an agreement may not or can not be made, be prepared to let the court decide. You will hear this time and time again..."when the court decides you bring in the element of surprise."
When you are in a custody dispute and the court is going to decide what the custody arrangement will be there are a few principles they use for the basis of the decision. You need to take a look at these principles and evaluate your relative position and determine your strengths and weaknesses as a custodial parent and those of the other parent.
The following are the significant principles that the court may consider in a child custody dispute. Please keep in mind that all situations are unique and often the court will make interpretations of all or some of the principles based on evidence and the burden of proof.