Usually, family law is handled and regulated at the state level. Occasionally, legislation comes down from above. "Above" means legislation mandated by the federal government. One act in particular has been adopted by most states. It is the Uniform Child Custody Act or UCCA, and Texas has adopted the legislation.
Research has shown some of the emotional and mental affects that divorce can have on children. It is now believed that there are ways to minimize the stress for children involved in a divorce. The UCCA seeks to lessen or eliminate conflicts involving child custody. The UCCA allows each state to identify and enforce child custody orders made in another state. This practice eases some of the custody arguments resulting from inter-state child custody conflicts.
The UCCA supports joint custody. To date, awarding both parents custody at the same time is the most common. This joint custody arrangement splits the legal custody and physical custody between the two parents. If it is in the best interest of the child, it is the hope that the parents will share physical custody equally. If it is not in the best interest of the children, joint custody does give freedom for physical custody as determined by the parents.
Child custody can be just as confusing as the divorce proceedings themselves. The main difference is to keep in mind the best interests of the child. Focusing on this will ensure that the best possible arrangement is made for the child in the middle of the divorce. It will hopefully ease the transition for the child to be in the child's new home environment.
Source: findlaw.com, "Details on State Child Custody Acts," Accessed Nov. 3, 2014