As anyone in Calgary can tell you, trying to create a child custody or parenting agreement between divorcing spouses can be difficult. Not only are emotions running high because of the relationship breakdown, but many parents are upset at the thought of not always being around their children. It may get even harder to make custody arrangements, however, when individuals have children with several former partners. Trying to find an arrangement that suits all the parents involved can create a logistical nightmare.
It was a problem that a condensed-matter physicist, Andres Gomberoff, and his mathematics colleagues tried to conquer with, what else, math. They tried to find a way for parents of multiple children with multiple partners whose former partners also had multiple children with multiple partners to have all of their children for the same weekend. While sometimes it is truly an impossible feat, they were able to come up with a model that reduces the number of people upset by their custody arrangements.
Will the Alberta courts adopt this model? Unlikely, but it is important to note that the model depends on former partners who are willing to work together. While many divorcing parents are able to put aside their differences in the best interest of their children, this is not always the case and for those parents, litigation and costs escalate accordingly.
Though the model was recently published in European Physical Journal B, the physicist admits that, more often than not, he will just sit down with his ex-wives to create his own child custody arrangements. Reasonable people will create reasonable solutions, regardless of how you calculate the math.
Source: Scientific American, "Physics Can Solve Child-Custody Arrangements," Clara Moskowitz, March 7, 2014