In order to understand whether child custody is always part of a divorce case or not, it is important to know the whole process of divorce, and how it is conducted when parents decide to part ways after being legally married or have just parted ways. 

There are some instances where parents were not legally married but they have borne children and live together. In this situation, we shall also look at what happens when they separate and seek child custody. 

Another option is when the legally married parents divorce and what happens when they negotiate for settlement of child custody outside the court, or when they file it as part of the divorce. 

Understanding the Divorce Process 

The divorce process may be different from one state to another. However, there are similarities in how the divorce is conducted in most courts in the United States. Normally, the divorce begins when both parties decide to file a divorce petition, or one partner who is not satisfied in marriage seeks the court for marriage dissolution. 

Depending on the state, the partner seeking divorce is bound by the divorce laws of the state on whether he or she has to prove the grounds for seeking divorce or not. These are called fault and no-fault divorce. 

Temporary Orders During Divorce 

Since divorce process may take a long time to be finalized, the parties involved may seek for temporary orders on matters that cannot wait such as who will take custody of the child or children before the final decision is made by the court. Temporary orders can also affect things like child and spousal support and other things that cannot wait. 

In this case, we can clearly see that child custody becomes part and parcel of the divorce process. 

Negotiating for A Settlement 

Divorce process will also require the parties to negotiate for a settlement. This can be done through meditation to help the parties solve issues that are pertinent to the case. The negotiations can touch on matters to do with child custody and support among other things. 

The courts encourage the divorcing parties to always mediate and agree on issues that touch on them, and the children. This will help reduce the costs and time the case will take to be concluded. In this case, child custody being part of the case may even make things hard, especially when one parent contests and the case is referred to trial. 

When parents agree on child custody terms, this may not be part of the divorce case. The parties may just seek the court for the approval of their agreements for it to be enforceable. When this happens, the court will only pursue the divorce case, and leave the child custody matters that have been agreed upon by the parents. 

It is also important to note that parents have an option to pursue an amicable way of solving their child custody issues without involving the court or making it part of the divorce process. The resulting child custody agreements may then be enforced through the court. Therefore, we can say, it depends on the nature of the case, and whether divorcing parents already have child custody plans in place or not. 

Divorce Trial and Child Custody 

Trial always comes when parents fail to agree in the negotiation or mediation phase of the divorce process. In most cases, child custody and support are among the major issues during the divorce and spouses always find it difficult to solve or agree on issues. This leads to the case being referred to trial, and this is where child custody becomes the main issue in the divorce process. 

Child Custody for Separated Parents 

For separated parents, child custody can be a different case. This is where the parents live apart from each other but are still legally married. In this case, parents who have separated and have children involved can file for child custody with the court. This is a different case and is not tied to a divorce case. 

The aim here is to get the best for the children and does not have to do with the parents. That means, parents can continue living apart from each other while pursuing the child custody case with the court. Of course, there is an alternative dispute resolution for parents who have separated and want to settle their child custody issues outside the court. This is considered to serve the best interests of the child or children better. 

For separated parents, we can conclude that the child custody is not part of the divorce process since the parents can arrange for child custody through negotiations, mediation, or through the court without having to file for divorce. 

Who Decides Child Custody? 

Understanding who decides custody will also help us understand whether it is always part of the divorce process or not. Parents who divorce and have children will definitely have to go through the process of determining who to take care of the child or children, parenting plans, and support among other things. 

This can be done amicably through negotiation where the parents agree and come up with an agreed plan on how to go about the issue of child custody. 

When parents cannot agree, the issue of child custody is either determined together with the divorce case, and that becomes part of the divorce, or handled differently if the parents are just separated and have not filed for divorce

Therefore, child custody is decided by the agreement between the parents, or by the court. Being decided by the court means it can come with the divorce process or pursued as a different case

In a Nutshell

Child custody is not always part of the divorce. It will depend on whether the parents have made arrangements and agreed on a workable parenting plan for the children or not. When parents who are legally married and have children divorce without a plan on child custody, then child custody becomes part of the divorce process. 

Therefore, it is right to say child custody can be part of the divorce process but it is not always the case.