Physicists find algorithm that makes better custody arrangements

Are you a divorced parent? Have you ever gotten frustrated by a child custody arrangement? If you answered yes to both of these questions then you’re not alone. A lot of parents here in Texas, as well as across the nation, experience the same frustration and often find it just as difficult to deal with as it is to find a solution. But a group of physicists believe they may have found relief from this frustration from the most unlikely of things.

After taking a look at his own custodial arrangement, one of the physicists wondered if there was a simpler way of aligning the visitation schedules between the family he had with his exes and the current family he has with his new girlfriend. Believing that he could apply a mathematical model to a complex societal problem, he asked some friends to help him. After analyzing a number of cases, researchers developed an algorithm that optimized visitation between divorced parents and minimized the number of unhappy couples.

Although the algorithm can make an easier time of arranging custody and visitation, it’s important to remember that there is no substitution for sitting down with your ex and determining a custody agreement. This is something even the lead physicists agreed with, pointing out that even though the formula helped him align his visitation schedules across different families, he finds it easier to talk to his exes rather than relying on a mathematical equation.

So is it likely that we will see couples here in Fort Worth start using the equation anytime soon? Probably not, says the physicist who points out that he and his group are still looking at ways to account for more complicating factors.

Source: Scientific American, “Physics Can Solve Child-Custody Arrangements,” Clara Moskowitz, Mar. 7, 2014