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Professor's math algorithm could aid in property division woes

One major problem encountered in divorce settlements is property division. While the goal may be equitable division of marital property, not all divorcing couples in St. Louis agree on how this should be done. Many divorce disputes could stem from this factor alone. To keep emotions from guiding the process, a math professor has devised a way to deal with complex property division in the most mathematical way possible.

Together with two co-authors, the math professor has created an algorithm that claims to divide indivisible properties — like cars and pets — between two people in a fair manner. The algorithm is not only useful for couples undergoing a divorce, but also for the distribution of estates and inheritances.

The parties are each asked to rank their marital properties from the highest valued to the least valued so that each of them gets what they want most. In the case that both parties have the same priority item, the algorithm will analyze the entire list so that both parties end up happy with their final agreement. In the end, an “envy-free” division can be achieved, as long as both parties remained truthful regarding the properties and assets that have the most value for them.

It might be a long shot to let an algorithm make property division decisions, but it could be a useful aid in difficult divorce proceedings. New ideas like these require time to take root and gain momentum, but the strategy could be a big help in the future.The creators of the algorithm are now working on patenting their invention.

Complimenting sound legal advice, this application may one day be helpful for Missouri couples going through a divorce.

Source: The Record, “Who gets the goodies? Math can take the sting out of a romance gone sour,” Greg Mercer, Feb. 14, 2014

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