Even theoretical physics has trouble determining a child custody schedule

It comes as little surprise to most people that establishing a workable child custody schedule is difficult. The relationship between the parents, the age of the child, work schedules, and a host of other issues can influence a parent's desires and compromises when establishing a child custody plan that works in the best interests of the child.

You wouldn't necessarily think it would take a theoretical physicist to figure it out, though.

Yet that is exactly what one scientist did when figuring out a schedule to see all his children at the same time. The physicist, Andres Gomberoff, faced a situation in which he had children by two ex-wives and was living with a current partner with a child. The physicist, whose day job is the study of black holes, used algorithms that minimize the energy of certain magnetic material and applied it to his own custody arrangement.

That turned into a physics modeling experiment, recently published in European Physical Journal B. The authors attempted to apply an algorithm that would provide parents in combined family situations an optimal custody schedule. Unfortunately, there was no algorithm that could provide both parents custody of all their children every other weekend. The authors of the study found that it is possible, however, to have an arrangement in which one of the parents could see all of their children every other weekend.

Gomberoff admits that his algorithm cannot account for complicating social factors, such as parents who are unwilling or unable to see their children as often as would be ideal or parents who have to work on weekends. He also admitted he preferred to sit down with his other exes and a calendar when establishing a custody schedule, rather than simply applying a formula.

Myriad factors in play

Child custody schedules and visitation can vary widely depending on individual circumstances. Generally, family courts assume that it is in the child's best interests if both parents are involved in raising the child, unless there is a reason, such as domestic abuse, that would make it unsafe for a child to live with or visit one of the parents.

If parents are able to agree to a custody arrangement mutually satisfying to both parents, generally the court will approve that agreement. It is only when the parents are unable to agree that a court will step in and decide custody.

Creating a workable child custody schedule is a complicated matter. Parents looking to arrange or modify a child custody arrangement should contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss their situation and legal options.