Custody disputes are often raw emotional battles over which parent is best suited to care for a child. This usually boils down to fundamental differences in parenting styles. One parent may be a strict disciplinarian who believes children should be raised only in a certain way, while the other might be a more liberal guardian who believes in going "with the flow".
Children ideally flourish when both styles are incorporated. Unfortunately, parents may miss this overall benefit and wrestle for control of all decision-making within the child's life, thereby making life difficult for the other parent (as well as the child). They may look to the court system to enforce their parental rights, only to see that they have corrupted their legal position even before they appear in court.
Because of that, parents frustrated with their co-parenting situations should consider the following tips:
Keep a log of conversations and issues - Because of the emotional nature of custody disputes, parents often mis-remember things and have difficulty recalling them.
Keep kids out of parenting disputes - Simply put, do not make kids a part of your dispute with the other parent. Children should not be scapegoats or messengers in feuds with your ex.
Do not play "quid pro quo" games with parenting time - Essentially, refrain from using parenting time (or extra time) as a "bargaining chip" to get your way. This also applies to parents who withhold such time to as a form of revenge.
Ultimately, you want to show that you have been a responsible adult who has been willing to compromise before bringing your dispute to court.
Source: HuffingtonPost.com, How to Lose Child Custody, December 12, 2011