“Custody” and “placement” (sometimes called “visitation”) are often confused by the uninitiated. “Custody” has to do with decision-making on the child(ren)’s behalf on matters of health, education, and financial management. “Visitation” has to do with where the children live and when they, in accordance with the judge’s order, are and are not scheduled to be there.
The judge decides who will be primarily in charge of the child(ren)’s health, education and finances, and with whom the children will primarily live. The decision is made after the judge hears from professionals and various other observers and acquaintances who are familiar with both parents and the child(ren), as well as the dynamics of the respective family household. First among the professionals, as determined by state law, is the guardian ad litem (who may be a lawyer) or the custody evaluator (who may be a psychologist). Depending upon the state, one or another of these professionals is appointed by the court to look into the specific situation presented by each case and make a recommendation to the judge as to the “best interests of the child(ren)” in that case.
Being a good dad means both talking the talk and walking the walk. Everyone from the ex to the kids to the guardian to teachers, coaches, neighbors, doctors and shrinks is watching. Show them all what a good dad you are and in the process you’ll actually become a better dad than you were. The inevitable effect of that is that it’s good for you and your children, and smart dads know this. Take this expert advice to heart, and remember: if you want custody of your children, show the world and your family that you are serious about the responsibilities of fatherhood.
Source: Fathers will win child custody battles if the children are the priority in everyday life
Source: Child Custody for Fathers