An abstractly fair child custody plan?
Creating a child custody plan is almost always difficult. The parents want to maximize the time with their child or children, but physics prevent an object from being two locations at the same time. The child can only be with one parent at a given time, so how to create the “fairest” allocation of time?
So, it only seems reasonable to consider whether physics, which is focused on the movement of objects throughout space, would be able to come up with a math-based solution to the problems of time allocation in a child custody agreement. For one physicist, the question was more than abstract math.
He had two ex-wives and had children from both marriages. He was also in the new relationship, and his new partner also had children from her prior relationship. He wanted a way of arranging things so every parent could have every other weekend with their children, and a weekend free with his partner.
Turns out even with a physics professor and a chaos-theory mathematician developing the model, they found that with more than five it becomes very complex and difficult.
They noted that as a mathematical model, it relies on simplifying the arrangements. Actual custody arrangements must function in the multivariate, real world, but they hope to use actual demographic data with the model to help provide guidance for judges dealing with a custody dispute.
No matter what your specific situation, the better organized your custody agreement is, the better expectations can be set, and if done properly, those expectations will permit changes and flexibility when the inevitable chaos of life engulfs you.
Source: Psmag.com, “Can Physics Solve Custody Battles?” Bettina Change, February 27, 2014