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Can science play a role in simplifying child custody setups?

Massachusetts family law prioritizes the best interests of children. For the most part, so do parents who are going through the process of divorce. When the courts, parents and divorce lawyers all understand that protecting the kids is of utmost importance, healthy child custody arrangements can be made.

What is healthy and completely satisfactory to all parties involved in a child custody arrangement might not be the same. And, according to a scientific study, the disparity could be the result of impossibility. A physicist with a complicated family situation of his own actually applied an equation to try to find an all-around ideal child custody setup.

Like many other families, including some in Lexington and surrounding areas, the scientist has more than one ex-spouse and kids from more than one marriage. He is also in a new relationship with someone who has a similar family history. The complexities of their histories and their wants for parenting time apparently can't align. 

Simply put, the couple wanted a way to have time with certain kids together on certain weekends. They wanted blood siblings together to have time alone with the couple. They also wanted time for all of the siblings, including all kids from the various marriages, to have time together on the weekends. 

The parent used his scientific savvy to determine whether such arrangements worked and also allowed all parents to have fair time with the kids. According to a mathematical model used for something called spin-glass systems, his ideal child custody arrangement is mathematically impossible. 

Divorce lawyers most likely wouldn't apply the spin-glass equation to parents' situations. They will, however, help families sort through the complexity of their own circumstances and hopes. At the center of any child custody equation is and should be the children's well-being.

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

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