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Black holes, mathematical algorithms and ... child custody?

Any experienced family law attorney in Arkansas or elsewhere can immediately step up to confirm that divorce-related issues can sometimes be complex, cumbersome and -- in select cases -- more than a bit contentious.

That is perhaps nowhere more apparent than when former spouses try to fashion optimal visitation and child custody schedules. Given the extended and often non-traditional families that now commonly exist across the country, working out sustainable and amicable arrangements involving the kids can be a flatly difficult assignment for the adults.

That is often true even in relatively “simple” families, that is, two divorced parents and a single child. In today’s America, that family description, while still commonplace, exists alongside far more complex family units. Many families feature same-sex couples, one or more stepparents, new unmarried partners, kids with different parents living under the same roof, and just about anything else than that can be considered.

Who gets the kids and pursuant to what schedule when divorce is a reality in a complex family unit?

A physicist from Chile who studies black holes has attempted to answer that sticky question with results recently published in a scientific journal. Andres Gomberoff is a father, with kids from two former marriages, as well as being a partner with a girlfriend also having her own kids. It dawned on him that finding an algorithm based on complex scientific principles might make all the adults in his child-related circle happy by coming up with a scheduling arrangement to accommodate everyone’s needs.

It turns out that science is not the panacea for every human challenge. Although the so-called “spin glass system” that Gomberoff employed to come up with optimal scheduling did ease some of the collective strain, human dynamics make a perfect solution impossible.

Gomberoff says that engaging in regular face-to-face communication is actually the preferred method for working out custodial arrangements.

And if things intractably grind to a halt, as they sometime do, a proven divorce attorney with solid experience in custody matters will likely prove to be more beneficial than an algorithm.

Source: Scientific American, "Physics can solve child-custody arrangements," Clara Moskowitz, March 7, 2014

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