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Physics may offer child custody and visitation help

For many Maryland parents who divorce, maintaining a close bond with their kids is a top priority. In many cases, parents have children from more than one relationship, which can make visitation scheduling more complicated. Once those parents move on to new relationships, even more children and different child custody arrangements can factor in, making scheduling concerns overwhelming. Achieving a solution in which a parent can have his or her own children as well as those of their new partner in one weekend can seem an unattainable goal.

A recent study suggests that it may be possible to harness the power of science to solve complicated scheduling issues. Researchers used a mathematical approach known as a spin-glass system to take a complex mix of social data and reach a solution. Families with wide array of visitation requests and interpersonal bonds were put into the system, and the result was a solution in which the requests of most parents could be met, at least some of the time.

By using this approach, it is possible for a family to have visitation with children from multiple prior relationships on the same weekend. This can allow the kids to grow up with a sense of connection to their half and step-siblings, even when they will never reside full-time in the same household. As the structure of the American family continues to shift, solutions such as this may give divorced parents better tools to create scheduling solutions.

While there is currently no plan to apply the results of this study to a practical application, such a product may eventually hit the market. Until then, Maryland parents should know that with the proper degree of collaboration and attention, it is possible to work out a visitation schedule that is in line with multiple child custody agreements and also allows kids who share complex parental bonds to spend time together. While it may take more time and effort, the outcome is well worth the trouble.

Source: Scientific American, Physics Can Solve Child-Custody Arrangements, Clara Moskowitz, March 7, 2014

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