New Child Support Calculator

Patricia K. Buonodono, J.D., C.W.L.S.
Director, Georgia Child Support Project

When parents separate, many issues have to be settled or decided.  The most important of these decisions concern the children: where will they live, how to maintain their standard of living, how both parents can continue their loving and supportive relationship even though the children are not with them full time.  Child support is a very important aspect of these separation issues, as children who are not supported financially by both parents often sink into poverty, and their well-being may decline as a result.

Child support is calculated by using the child support calculator, which was developed by the Georgia Commission on Child Support in 2007.  The child support calculator essentially tracks the child support guidelines, which are codified at O.C.G.A. § 19-6-15, and makes the calculations in the order in which they appear in the guidelines.

Since 2007, the Georgia child support calculator has been based on a downloadable, Excel-based program.  But earlier this year, the Georgia Commission on Child Support authorized the development of a new, online child support calculator.  Bids were solicited, a selection committee chosen, which included Scott Harlan, Associate Director of IT at the Georgia Tech Research Institute who has been extremely generous in giving us his time and expertise, and we were off!  After reviewing and evaluating the bids received, the vendor selected was Managed Information Services International, LLC, owned by Philip Ladin, who is not only a developer but a practicing family attorney as well, and development of our online calculator is now underway, with a targeted release in late fall 2015. 

The final child support worksheets will look essentially the same as they have traditionally, and the information contained in the worksheets and careful tracking of our child support guidelines will not change.  The functionality of the online calculator is somewhat similar to a tax program where the user simply provides information, and it populates and calculates the worksheet.

The new calculator project began at the request of many judges and attorneys who wanted to be able to calculate child support on tablets and other devices that do not support MS Excel.  We also want a product that is as easy as possible for self-represented litigants to use.  The current, Excel-based calculator will still be available, but it is the hope of the Commission that users will prefer the online calculator as the Excel-based calculator will be phased out within the next few years.

Using the online calculator, individuals will be able to establish their own accounts with a user name and password.  They can prepare a worksheet and save it, and then can go back and work on it again at a later time, or open it and save it as a new version and then make changes.  Users may share their worksheets with other users, such as attorneys or opposing parties.  Once completed, a final version is submitted to the court.

We currently have a focus group looking at the new calculator, and they find it to be very user-friendly.  The main concern we have had expressed about the online calculator is that not all courthouses have wireless internet access, so if the parties need to make changes during or following a hearing or a mediation, that may not be possible.  However, most if not all judges and their clerks do have internet access and could open the worksheets to make changes, and most courthouses have a law library with a computer for public use.  While not a perfect solution, it does work.  It is our sincere hope that Georgia’s legislature will make wireless access at every courthouse in the state a priority, and alleviate such concerns.

We are very excited about the new online calculator, and hope that its users will be too.

Contact AOC

Administrative Office of the Courts 244 Washington Street, SW Suite 300 Atlanta, GA  30334

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