FAQ's

Versions of Support 2017 have been developed, by MarginSoft, for the states of Kentucky, Michigan, Florida, Washington, and Maryland. These programs have been designed to assist family law attorneys involved in divorce settlements. The Maryland version was developed in association with the Bruce A. Kaufman Center for Family Law of the Women's Law Center of Maryland.

To find helpful tips on how to use these programs, or to find answers about some of the features included in these programs, refer to links below in regards to these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Table Of Contents

What Are The Basic Features Of These Programs?

How Are Federal Taxes Estimated?

How Do The Programs Treat FICA And Self Employment Tax?

What Is The Net Investment Income SurTax?

What Federal Tax Credits Are Given In The Programs?

Do The Programs Also Estimate State Tax?

Can I Over-ride The Tax Estimate Generated By The Programs?

How Do I Enter Case Data Into The Programs?

Can I Generate A Child Support Worksheet For Washington, Florida, Or Kentucky?

How Do The Programs Treat Split Child Custody Arrangements?

How Do The Programs Treat Shared Child Custody Arrangements?

How Do I Get An Alimony/Maintenance Recommendation?

Isn't "Spousal Maintenance" A More Up To The Century Term Than "Alimony"?

What Is The Theory And History Behind The Alimony/Maintenance Recommendations?

What If I Encounter A Strange Alimony/Maintenance Recommendation?

Can I Get An Unallocated Support Recommendation?

Can I Generate A Financial Declaration Form For The State Of Washington or The Florida Financial Affidavit?

What Other Printouts And Reports Are Available In These Programs?

Can I Save Case Data, Worksheets, Or Other Forms To A File For Later Use?

Can These Programs Extrapolate Child Support At High Levels Of Combined Family Incomes?

What Is The Defined Benefit Pension Plan Valuation Calculator?

What Are The Basic Features Of These Programs?

Support 2017 (Washington, Kentucky, Florida, Maryland and Michigan) are the year 2017 versions of Craig Rossís "Support Series" of programs. The first versions, for use in Michigan, were written in the late1970's and were simply pencil and hand calculator models for evaluating alimony/maintenance cases. Since that time there have been many revisions to the original program which now includes child support calculations and other additional features. Support 2017 is now widely used as a routine part of domestic practice throughout Michigan, Kentucky, Florida and Washington. A New version of our "Support Series" has recently been developed for use in the state of Maryland in association with the Bruce A. Kaufman Center for Family Law of the Women's Law Center of Maryland.

These programs contain the following features:

1) Alimony/Maintenance Recommendations: The maintenance recommendations generated within Support 2017 represent a continuing and protean idea as to how alimony arguments should be resolved. The maintenance suggested is not intended as a "prognosticator" of what any court or referee will order or recommend, though it is more likely than not to be what Craig Ross, a nationally known alimony theorist, thinks based primarily on the factors listed in the respective state guidelines for Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, and Washington.

The question often arises as to the "intent" of the alimony program. The vision is that the maintenance recommendations generated by the program be used as a "tool" in evaluating maintenance and alimony claims. It is not an attempt to pre-empt the field of thought. We donít think any algorithm or guideline can or should do this. The point of the alimony program is to provide practitioners with a starting place to analyze a case, from the viewpoint of someone who has seen thousands of cases.

We encourage attorneys to look at the "bottom lines" of any maintenance run and ask the question whether these bottom lines make sense given everything one knows about the case. And why or why not. The point of the program is to allow the user to try his or her answers and evaluate whether these answers are more or less logical than those suggested by the program. The alimony algorithms within Support 2017 contain substantive changes from earlier versions, and continue to undergo minor changes based on the input from attorneys in Michigan, Kentucky, Florida, Maryland and Washington.

As with any attempt of this sort there is always some element of art in using the program. We suggest one "play" with the program and check out all the on-screen information before applying it to the "real" world. In other words, there are no express or implied warranties. We appreciate all comments about the theory, and Craig Ross is available to discuss problems in using this program or to discuss any answer that might look "strange" or "wrong". He does not charge for these interactions.

2) Child Support Calculator: Support 2017 has been updated and adapted to reflect the current child support guidelines of their respective states. These programs greatly simplify and automate child support calculations. The versions for Kentucky, Maryland, Florida, and Washington quickly allow for the production and printing of their state's individualized child support child worksheets. Of course, a basic familiarity with each state's child support guidelines is useful in trying to make sense of cases. The Michigan version does not use a worksheet but allows the transfer of the child support calculations to the Michigan Uniform Child Support Order (UCSO) form.

Besides the automatic calculation and preparation of child support worksheets, the individual state versions of the program have an express data entry screen that quickly allows the calculation of child support and the generation of a separate proprietary child support report.

In addition, the programs for Washington and Florida will generate the respective financial declaration or financial affidavit forms which can be directly tied to the data in the child support worksheet.

3) Federal Tax and FICA/SE Estimator: Support 2017 will generate basic federal tax estimates and FICA/SE tax estimates for each parent. These tax estimates are based on the year 2017 Federal tax codes available at the time of this writing, including the 2017 inflation adjustments and the tax relief extensions and modifications passed by Congress in recent years. For 2017, it is uncertain as the year unfolds if the tax codes for 2017 will change, but MarginSoft will update the programís tax code algorithms in line with any changes passed by Congress during the year. Support 2017 assists in the quick evaluation of the tax implications of each case. The net incomes of each parent depending upon which parent takes the federal tax exemptions for their children, or gets the child tax and/or child care tax credits, are generated by the reports within the program. While Support 2017 is not intended to be a comprehensive tax calculation program or a substitute for expert tax advice, it will quickly allow evaluations of common tax issues in many case situations.

4) Unallocated Support: Support 2017 contains an alternative calculation suggesting "family support" transfers. The point of this methodology is to increase the number of dollars accruing to the family by use of a unified payment. The program provides an original suggestion as a place to start. It is intended that an unallocated award be adjusted/defined to either (a) increase both partiesí net incomes and/or (b) make certain neither party has "less" via an unallocated award than with child support and alimony. There are traps in unallocated awards. Check with an accountant/lawyer experienced in use of the mechanism.

5) Defined Benefit Pension Plan Valuations Calculators: Support 2017 contains a tool for calculating the present value of a defined benefit plan. This calculator now uses the most current (2006) life expectancy tables provided by the Public Health Service and allows sorts for sex and race/ethnicity. There is a monograph within the program on valuing pension plans. We stress that the program is not a substitute for actuarial evaluation nor intended as a substitute for expert advice as to the present value of these kinds of assets. The intent is to provide another tool to help with the evaluation of a case.

6) IRA 72(t) Early Withdrawal Calculator: It is possible to withdraw money from an IRA before age 59 1/2 and avoid early withdrawal penalties if those withdrawals are made under the "72(t) exception". This exception is outlined in the Internal Revenue Service Code (IRC) Section 72(t)(2)(a)(iv). There are three possible 72(t) methods. Support 2017 contains a tool that calculates the potential annual early withdrawal amounts that can be taken from an IRA using these three different methods that meet the IRS criteria. There is a monograph about these methods within the programís 72(t) calculator.

7) Overnight Count Organizer/Estimator: Support 2017 contains a tool to help calculate the number of overnights attributable to each parent.

8) Tiering. Support 2017 shows the tiers of child support in cases of multiple children as children become legal adults. Note that this calculation excludes child care and health insurance considerations, which rarely can be predicted into the future.

9) Financial Calculator: Support 2017 contains a Financial Calculation Tool that will provide answers to various commonly asked financial questions. This tool will calculate mortgage payments, mortgage interest, and mortgage balances. This tool will also calculate the present amount needed to fund of a series of future payments, and the future value of a series of current payments.

10) Bonus Calculator : Support 2017 contains a tool that determines a rate to be applied against a payerís gross bonus in calculating child support and/or alimony when the bonus is variable. Often, the level of the bonus is an unknown and, as opposed to the cost and systemic hassles of calculating it after the fact, a simple percentage can be calculated before the fact to be applied against the (gross) bonus - avoiding the need for third party help in the future.

The Bonus Calculator is invoked by clicking on ďBonus CalculatorĒ from the menu line found at the top of the alimony and child support recommendation screens. There is a monograph available when the ĒAboutĒ button is clicked in the calculator and that explains the process and the potential weaknesses of the process. The output of the Bonus Calculator can be printed by clicking on ďPrintĒ from the menu line at the top of the bonus calculator dialog.

11) Business Valuation Calculator:  The Michigan and Washington versions of  Support 2017 includes a tool that uses the Excess Earnings Method to give a valuation to a small privately owned business as a marital asset. This method can be used to estimate the value of a technical or professional service business such as medical professionals, attorneys, accountants or other types of businesses where the owner is a sole proprietor working out of a small office or shop. See the documentation within the program.

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How Are Federal Taxes Estimated?

The Federal tax calculations provided by Support 2017  incorporate changes made to the Federal tax code for the 2017 tax filing year. These tax estimates are based on the year 2017 Federal tax codes including inflation adjustments provided by the IRS and the tax relief extensions and modifications passed by Congress in reent years. Support 2017 will track any changes passed by Congress in 2017 and updates to the programís tax algorithms will be made available to registered users.

Please note that Support 2017 is not intended to be a comprehensive tax calculation program or a substitute for expert tax advice, but it will generate a functional tax estimate in most case situations. Support 2017 is updated yearly or whenever changes are made in the Federal tax code. Any mid-season updates due to Federal or state tax law changes are made available to program users as a free download.

In Support 2017, the adjusted gross income that is subject to tax is determined by subtracting out, from the gross taxable incomes entered in the program, the standard deduction or itemized deduction and any exemption deductions. Also subtracted from gross taxable incomes are any IRA, retirement, or self-employed health insurance deductions entered in the program, and 1/2 of any self-employment tax paid for social security and medicare. When running an alimony/spousal support recommendation, Support 2017 will reduce or increase the individuals adjusted gross income by the amount of the recommended alimony/spousal support transfer. The tax consequences of this spousal support transfer is shown in the program. Child support payments are not deductible from gross income for Federal tax purposes.

Federal Tax Personal Exemptions:  The current deduction for personal exemptions is $4,050 per exemption for the 2017 tax-filing year. Personal Exemptions are subject to potential phase out due to a partyís high income in line with the tax relief extensions and modifications passed by Congress in recent years. These inflation adjusted phase-outs for 2017 now begin at $261,500 for single filers, at $287,650 for head of household filers, at $313,800 for married filing jointly filers, and at $156,900 for married filing separately filers.

Federal Tax Standard and Itemized Deductions: Support 2017 gives each parent a standard deduction based on their individual tax filing status. For the 2017 tax filing year, this standard deduction is $9,350 for a Head of Household, $6,350 for a Single or a Married Filing Separately individual, and $12,700 for a Married Filing Jointly individual. Support 2017 gives these standard deductions.

For individuals with extensive itemized deductions, you may wish to over ride the program and enter an itemized deduction. You do this by clicking on the "Itemized Deduction" option button under the "Fed Tax Credits & Deductions" tab of the "Enter Income & Deductions" data entry popup. For the purpose of determining each parent's net income, we suggest that Itemized Deductions should only include those recurring yearly expenses such as home mortgage interest, home property taxes, state and local taxes, and annual gifts to charity. Non-recurring itemized deductions such as one-time medical expenses or one-time casualty and theft losses are most likely not appropriate entries when considering Itemized Deductions.

For the 2017 Tax Filing Year, some types of Itemized Deductions are subject to potential phase-out due to a partyís high income. For those parties with incomes that exceed the 2017 phase-out thresholds, Support 2017 will apply these inflation-adjusted phase-outs to the Itemized Deductions that are entered in the program as being subject to phase-out.

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How Do The Programs Treat FICA And Self Employment Tax? 

Support 2017 calculates FICA and SE taxes based on the year 2017 Federal tax code. For individuals that are not self-employed, FICA is calculated at a rate of 7.65% on the first $127,200 of gross earned income (for social security and medicare), plus 1.45% on any additional gross earned income that exceeds $127,200 (for medicare). For self-employed individuals, self-employment tax is calculated at a rate of 12.4% on the first $127,200 of net earnings, plus 2.9% on any additional net earnings that exceeds $127,200. For self-employed individuals net earnings are reduced by 92.35% before calculating the self-employment tax. Self-employed individuals can apply a deduction of one half of their self-employment tax from their adjusted gross income before calculating their Federal tax. Support 2017 will apply this deduction for self-employed individuals when estimating Federal tax.

There is an additional medicare surtax of 0.9% on earned income above $200,000 for Single and Head of Household taxpayers, above $250,000 for married filing jointly taxpayers, and above $125,000 for married filing separate taxpayers. This surtax is imposed under the health care legislation passed by Congress in 2010.


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What is The Net Investment Income Surtax? 

There is a 3.8% surtax on investment income for single or head of household filers with adjusted gross incomes above $200,000, for married filing jointly filers with adjusted gross incomes above $250,000 and for married filing single filers with adjusted gross incomes above $125,000. Net Investment Income (NII) includes any investment interest, passive income, royalties, rental income, annuities, long term and short term capital gains and most other types of unearned income except for distributions from qualified retirement plans. This surtax is in addition to any other federal tax paid on those types of investment income. This surtax is imposed under the health care legislation passed by Congress in 2010. If applicable, Support 2017 will calculate and apply this NII surtax to a partyís federal tax. Investment income susceptible to the NII surtax is entered into the appropriate data entry boxes in the tabbed Income and Deductions data entry popup for each party.

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What Federal Tax Credits Are Given In The Programs?

Tax credits are different than standard deductions and personal exemption deductions in that tax credits are applied against taxes owed after actual taxes are calculated. In most cases these tax credits can not exceed the amount of taxes owed, although there are exceptions. 

Child Tax Credits:  Support 2017 will give individuals a tax credit of $1000 for each child under age 17 claimed as an exemption. For the 2017 Tax Filing Year, these Child Tax Credits fade out at adjusted gross income levels above $75,000 for Head of Household or Single tax status filers, at adjusted gross incomes above $110,000 for Married Filing Jointly tax status filers, or at adjusted gross incomes above $55,000 for Married Filing Separately tax status filers. For every $1000 that an individual's adjusted gross income exceeds these fade out thresholds, the total potential Child Tax Credit is reduced by $50. This means that, for example, for an individual with a tax filing status of Single with two children claimed as exemptions under the age of 17, there would be no child tax credits to apply when that individual's income exceeds $115,000 (assuming $1000/child and not $500/child).

An Additional Child Tax Credit may be available when potential Child Tax Credits exceed the individual's Federal tax obligation. When there are three or more children, the Additional Child Tax Credit can exceed the amount of Federal taxes owed up to the amount of Federal taxes and FICA owed minus any Earned Income Credit received. For 2017, an Additional Child Tax Credit is also available up to the amount of the potential available tax credit that does not exceed 15% of the party's earned income in excess of $3,000. Support 2017 will give both the Child Tax Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit where applicable - depending on any tax bills passed by Congress.

Child Care/Dependent Care Tax Credits: Support 2017 will also apply any Child Care Tax Credits. These credits are applied where a parent has incurred child day care expenses such that the parent can work or look for work. Support 2017 will not apply this credit to a non-custodial parent. A custodial parent may take this credit even if the tax exemptions for the child(ren) have been given to the non-custodial parent. After entering the amount of child care paid, a user must also enter the number of children that qualify for this credit. The program will give a warning if this credit is not available to the party paying the child care amount.

Depending on income, a sliding credit percentage of 20% to 35% (or 20% to 30%, if prior tax bill are not extended by Congress) is applied against total child care expenses of up to $3,000 for one dependent (or $2400, if there is no extension of prior tax bills), or up to $6000 (or $4,800, if there is no extension of prior tax bills) of total child care expenses for two dependents. The maximum credit is 35% of child care expenses when adjusted gross income is $15,000 or less. The 20% credit applies to child care expenses when adjusted gross income exceeds $43,000. If Congress does not extend prior tax bills, then the maximum credit would be 30% of child care expenses when adjusted gross income is $10,000 or less and the 20% credit would apply to child care expenses when adjusted gross income exceeds $28,000. A Child Care Tax Credit is not a refundable credit, as it can not exceed the amount of Federal taxes owed

Earned Income Credits: Support 2017 will not automatically apply an Earned Income Credit. However, you may want to see the impact of an Earned Income Credit to a parentís tax calculation especially in regards to the programís alimony recommendations.

An Earned Income Credit is available for single, head household or married filing jointly taxpayers who work and have earned income under $15,010 with no qualifying children ($20,600 if married filing jointly), or earned income under $39,617 with one qualifying child ($45,207 if married filing jointly), or earned income under $45,007 with two qualifying children ($50,597 if married filing jointly), or earned income under $48,340 with three or more children ($53,930 if married filing jointly). The Earned Income Credit is a refundable credit in that it can exceed the amount of taxes owed. For those in lower income brackets with qualifying children, this credit can be several thousand dollars.

If you wish to add an Earned Income Credit to a parent's tax calculation you must first check the "Calculate Earned Income" checkbox under the "Fed Tax Credits & Deductions" tab of the "Enter Income & Deductions" data entry popup. If you check the "Calculate Earned Income Credit" checkbox, the program requests that you additionally enter the number of qualifying children to apply for the credit. A qualifying child, for the Earned Income Credit, is a child that has resided with the parent for at least one half of the tax year. For the 2017 tax year, an Earned Income Credit is not allowed if a taxpayer has more than $3,400 of investment income or is "Married Filing Separately".
 

Other Tax Credits: Support 2017 will only calculate Child Tax Credits, Child Care Tax Credits, and the Earned Income Credit. If you wish to apply other tax credits to a parent's tax calculation, you can enter any other tax credit directly under the "Fed Tax Credits & Deductions" tab of the "Enter Income & Deductions" data entry popup. Except for the Earned Income Credit and the Additional Child Tax Credit, the total of all tax credits can not exceed the amount of Federal taxes owed.

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Do The Programs Also Estimate State Tax?

For Support 2017 (Kentucky, Michigan, Maryland), state income tax will be calculated for each party using the current income tax code for that state. Washington and Florida, though, currently do not have a state income tax.

In situations where one party lives outside of the respective state of the individual program versions, there is a data entry field within the data entry express screen to enter, depending on the version, either the net state tax rate for the party that lives outside of the local state or the total state tax.

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Can I Over-ride The Tax Estimate Generated By The Programs?

When running a child support calculation from the data entry express screen, there is no way to over-ride the program generated tax estimate. In the versions for Washington, Michigan or Florida, once in the child support report screen, though, you can adjust the parentís incomes by clicking on the pink "Adjust Income" command buttons. This is something that you might want to do, if you feel the tax estimate generated by the program is too high or too low. This feature, though, is not enabled in the Kentucky and Maryland versions of Support 2017, as child support in Kentucky is calculated on gross incomes and not net incomes after taxes (as in Washington, Florida, and Michigan), making a tax over-ride feature less critical.

In Support 2017 for Washington or Florida when entering case data into a child support worksheet from the worksheet screen and a program generated tax estimate is not desired, you can enter taxes or net incomes directly into the worksheet. To run a child support worksheet in the Washington or Florida version, you do not necessarily need to run a program generated tax estimate.

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How Do I Enter Case Data Into The Programs?

When you first enter either of the Support 2017 programs, you will find yourself within the data entry express screen. This form leads you to other sections of the program. The data entry express screen is similar for all the state versions of the program and contains all of the input fields needed to run a child support or maintenance calculation. There are pink colored command buttons, located on the date entry form, and standard windows style menus, located at the top of the screen, to control the program. Data input fields needed for a child support calculation are designated in black letters, while those fields also required for a maintenance/alimony recommendation are designated in red letters.

Data input fields for the party's income and income deductions are accessed from the Income and Deductions "Popup" dialog. To invoke the Income and Deductions "Popup", you will need to click on the pink command button entitled "Enter Claimant's (or Payer's) Income And Deductions", located on the data entry express screen,

Once all the appropriate data fields have been entered, a child support calculation or maintenance recommendation can be run by clicking on one of the applicable pink command buttons. The program does extensive data checking, and will warn you if some data is missing or seems incorrect.

In the Washington, Florida, and Kentucky versions of Support 2017, you can also enter child support case data directly into the child support worksheets of the respective states without using the data entry express screen.

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Can I Generate A Child Support Worksheet For Washington, Florida, Maryland Or Kentucky?

The Washington, Florida, Maryland, and Kentucky versions of Support 2017 have features to handle their respective state's child support worksheets. 

You can also generate a child support calculation without first running a worksheet by entering the case data on the data entry express screen and then clicking on the pink "Enter Child Support Calculator" command button. This will generate a child support report without first running a worksheet.

But to go directly to the Kentucky, Florida, Maryland or Washington child support worksheets when using those versions of the program, click on the appropriate "Run Worksheet" pink command button located on the data entry express screen that first shows up when you start the program. This brings up a rendition of the worksheet into which you can enter your case data directly into the white colored data entry fields. All calculated fields are shown in a blue color and are generated when you click on the "Calculate Worksheet" command button from the menu line located at the top of the worksheet screen. You may change the scale of the worksheet shown on the screen by clicking on the "Size" menu. You may also change the worksheet font size and font type by clicking on the "Fonts" menu.

If you have already run a child support worksheet you can transfer your input data back to the data entry express screen, by clicking on the "Transfer Data To Express Form" command button from the menu line located at the top of the worksheet screen. This copies data from the worksheet to the express form. Make sure you have clicked on whether the mother or father is the claimant on the data entry express screen for these transfers to work. Note that the default setting is that the mother is the claimant.

Likewise, if you have already run a child support calculation from the data entry express screen, you can transfer that data back to a Washington or Kentucky child support worksheet by clicking on the "Get Data From Express Form" command button from the menu line located at the top of the worksheet screen.

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How Do The Programs Treat Split Child Custody Arrangements?

The methods used to calculate child support for split custody cases vary by state. 

As of 10/1/2008, Michigan has abandoned the concepts of split or shared custody.  For purposes of child support, all cases in Michigan are now evaluated by the number of overnights a child or children spend in each parent's household. In Michigan, all calculations, regardless of overnights, now use the "sum of the days cubed" formula applied to the number of overnights for each parent. These new guidelines are incorporated into Support 2017 for Michigan.

In Kentucky to get a split family custodial child support calculation, a separate child support calculation is completed for each separate split family, as if the other family did not exist, and then the results are combined to determine the net child support obligation transfer. This is called the dual worksheet method.  Support 2017 for Kentucky automatically will generate two child support worksheets when running a split custody case. 

In Florida, for a split custody case, you can run an adjustment using the ďWinters v. KatseralisĒ method. This method for adjusting child support in split custody cases was outlined in a 1993 Fla. 2d DCA decision. The ďWinters v. KatseralisĒ method takes the simple ratio of the number of children per parent, and applies that ratio to the child support obligation for each parent as if all the children were in one family. The transfer is the difference between the two parentís obligations. Support 2017 for Florida also gives the option to use the dual worksheet method for a split custody case adjustment.

The Washington Child Support Schedule neither directly addresses shared nor split custody cases. The version of Support 2017 for Washington, consequently, offer several methods for calculating split child custody cases. In Washington, the generally accepted method to conduct a split family child support calculation is using the "Arvey" method. This method for adjusting child support in split custody cases was first outlined in a 1995 appellate decision (77 Wn App 817, 1995). The "Arvey" method takes the simple ratio of the number of children per parent, and applies that ratio to the child support obligation for each parent as if all the children were in one family. It then subtracts the difference between the two parentís obligation to calculate the transfer. Support 2017 for Washington also gives the option to use the dual worksheet method. for a split custody case adjustment.  

In Maryland, to get a split family custodial child support calculation, you need to run two separate worksheets, one for each separate family, and then combine the results of the child support obligation of each parent for each family. Support 2017 automatically will generate two worksheets when running a split custody case in Maryland.

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How Do The Programs Treat Shared Child Custody Arrangements?

The methods used to calculate child support for shared custody cases vary by state.

As of 10/1/2008, Michigan has abandoned the concepts of split or shared custody.  For purposes of child support, all cases in Michigan are now evaluated by the number of overnights a child or children spend in each parent's household. In Michigan, all calculations, regardless of overnights, now use the "Sum of Days Cubed" formula applied to the number of overnights for each parent. These new guidelines are incorporated into Support 2017 for Michigan.

The Florida State Child Support Guidelines provides direction for shared custody cases. In shared custody cases for Florida, the basic support amount provided by the guideline tables is multiplied by 1.5. Then the ratio of the number of each childís residential days with each parent is multiplied against the other parentís child support obligation. Then the parentsí individual obligations are subtracted from one another to determine the transfer. 

Support 2017 for Kentucky provides for a variety of calculations for shared custody situations. Our recommendation is that Kentucky users run what is sometimes called the "Colorado Method" which is the "Sum of Days" method using 1.5 times the base child support. The Kentucky version also allows the user to run a simple "Sum of Days" calculation, a "Sum of Days Squared" or a "Sum of Days Cubed" shared custody calculation.

The Washington Child Support Schedule neither directly addresses shared nor split custody cases. The version of Support 2017 for Washington consequently, offer two methods for calculating shared custody cases. Support 2017 for Washington allows you to use either the "Sum of Days Squared" method, or the "Sum of Days" method. The "Sum of Days" method is similar to what is done with the "Arvey " method for split family cases in Washington. In the simple "Sum of Days" method, the ratio of the number of each childís residential days per each parent is multiplied against the other parentís child support obligation, and then subtracted from each other to determine the transfer. We feel that the "Sum of Days Squared" ratio or the "Sum of Days Cubed" ratio, as used in Michigan, is a better adjustment for shared custody cases, although there appears to be very little case law in Washington to support either method.

In Maryland shared custody cases, 1.5 times the base child support is applied to a "Sum of Days" formula. In the simple "Sum of Days" formula, the ratio of the number of each childís residential days with each parent is multiplied against the other parentís child support obligation, and then subtracted from each other to determine the net transfer. Support 2017 will run this shared custody calculation using the Maryland shared custody worksheet.

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How Do I Get An Alimony/Maintenance Recommendation?

All fields with red color lettering within the data entry express screen will need to be entered to run a maintenance/alimony recommendation. Click on the pink "Show Maintenance Recommendation" command button to run a maintenance case.

In a case where you feel a maintenance award may be appropriate, the issue arises as to whether or not a maintenance award for the current marriage under consideration should be calculated before child support. Moreover, there is also the issue if the new maintenance award should be carried forward as income deductions/additions for the parents in the current child support calculation.

The Support 2017 version for Washington and Florida now provides two different calculation default settings in regards to the sequencing of the maintenance and child support calculations. The program user has the option to sequence the calculations in either direction. The accepted practice in Washington and Florida seems to be to apply any maintenance award from the current marriage as an income deduction for the payer and as an income addition to the claimant (applying the potential tax implications) when calculating child support.

To select the sequencing setting, click on the "Calculation Default Setting" menu at the top of the Data Express Screen, and then click on "Sequencing" to select your preferred sequencing method. Of course, you do not need to necessarily run a maintenance calculation, if all you want is a child support calculation. The program assumes that there is no current maintenance award if there is no entry in the current maintenance data entry field on the Data Express Screen.

In Kentucky and Maryland, the normal procedure is to award maintenance before doing a child support calculation, consequently in the Support 2017 versions for Kentucky and Maryland, a maintenance calculation is carried forward into the child support portion of the program, and the option of selecting a different sequencing of calculations, as in the Washington and Florida versions, is not enabled.

As an aside, we feel the reasons for calculating child support prior to any maintenance derivation are (a) children have a higher level of protected status in the courts, (b) child support is a mandate, alimony is discretionary, and it makes sense to calculate areas mandated by the law before evaluating discretionary areas, (c) it is illogical to attempt an alimony calculation prior to understanding the nature of the child support realities----there may be no basis for an award once child support is evaluated and (d) it doesnít matter anyway because starting with alimony leads to an infinite regression that brings you back to the same spot, at least in terms of net incomes. As to consideration (d), if one starts by calculating alimony first this leads to "higher" alimony and "lower" child support numbers. It then makes sense to recalculate the alimony using the (now-defined) child support. And then recalculate child support in the same fashion. As these calculations continue they form a "limits" problem, where the ultimate answer approaches, to a near congruency, the suggested methodology (and answer) of calculating "child support first", at least as to the net bottom lines.

For these reasons, it is suggested that calculating child support first is the preferred system as is done in the versions of the program we have developed for Michigan. But thatís not the way it is done in the Kentucky or Maryland versions of Support 2017, and the Washington and Florida versions gives the user the option of sequencing calculations in either direction.

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Isn't "Spousal Maintenance" or "Spousal Support" A More Up To The Century Term Than "Alimony"?

Probably. But Craig Ross feels that the word "alimony" is more elegant and inclusive. "Alimony" encompasses classical cases ("spousal support") as well as those cases where an award is necessary to help protect the interests of children. As an historical matter "alimony" contemplates the support of a spouse and other dependents.

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What Is The Theory And History Behind The Alimony/Maintenance Recommendations?

See the links located at the Theory and Writings page of this Web Site.

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What If I Encounter A Strange Alimony/Maintenance Recommendation?

Call Craig Ross. Most of the time it is some misunderstanding as to the entry of data. On occasion we see an alimony "answer" we donít like, though generally this is a matter of "shading". Craig Ross has tinkered with the formulas for 20 years, particularly the past 8 years, and his plan is to continue the process so as to attempt to achieve the best possible theory.

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Can I Get An Unallocated Support Recommendation?

To get an unallocated support recommendation once in the Recommended Maintenance screen, click on the pink "Use Unallocated Award" command button. The program considers the balance points, and then makes an adjustment based upon a trial and error multiplier. Note that there are traps in using unallocated awards. Check with an accountant/lawyer experienced in use of the mechanism.

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Can I Generate A Financial Declaration Form For The State Of Washington Or The Financial Affidavit Form For Florida?

The version of Support 2017 for Washington now allows you to easily fill out and calculate the Washington Financial Declaration Form and the Child Support Order Summary Report. To access these forms for Washington just click on the "Other Forms" menu located at the top of the Child Support Worksheet screen. You can transfer data from a completed Child Worksheet to the Financial Declaration Form or to the Child Support Order Summary Report in Washington by clicking on the "Transfer Data From Worksheet" button at the top of the Financial Declaration or Support Order Summary screens.

The version of Support 2017 for Florida now incorporates both the long and short form versions of the Florida Financial Affidavit. The Florida Financial Affidavit can be accessed from the express data entry form and data can be transferred back and forth between the express data entry form and the affidavit.

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What Other Printouts And Reports Are Available In These Programs?

Besides the perfectly formatted state required child support worksheets that can be printed from the versions of Support 2017 for Washington, Florida, Maryland and Kentucky, all versions of Support 2017 contain several other print options for generating hard copy reports. Either a proprietary child support report or a maintenance report can be printed. These reports can be printed by clicking on the print menu at the top of the maintenance or child support screens. Although these reports can not be submitted to the courts in lieu of the official state child support worksheets required in Kentucky, Florida, Maryland and Washington, they may be valuable in creating hard copy printouts for your child support and maintenance case files. The user can also "dump" the output shown on the screens (either in "landscape" or "portrait" format) by clicking on "print screen image" in the print menu. A printout of the data entry express screen can also be dumped to the printer.

By clicking on the "Preparer" menu option located at the top of the maintenance screen, or the child support screen, you open a dialog box in which you can enter the report preparer's name and office that you would like to be printed on the proprietary maintenance and child support reports. You can select or deselect to have this information or the date printed on these reports. These defaults are saved in your computer's registry and will remain the program defaults until changed.

The versions of Support 2017 for Washington and Kentucky also generate four basic types of Worksheet Synopsis reports depending of the type of child custody case being examined. The Worksheet Synopsis shows a summary of the major child support worksheet fields. You can access this feature from the Print menu at the top of the child support worksheet screens. You will first be led to a preview of these synopsis reports from which you can then print them by clicking on the "print" menu at top of the report screens. Note that the Worksheet Synopsis is a Support 2017 generated and designed report, and is not a standard certified court form.

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Can I Save Case Data, Worksheets, Or Other Forms To A File For Later Use?

In Support 2017 you can save or retrieve your child support worksheets to and from a file. In all of the program versions, the data that you entered into the data entry express screen can also be saved by clicking on "File" from the menu bar at the top of the entry express screen. When you save a file it saves all of the current input data on the data entry express form, and also saves the child support worksheet data in those states where child support worksheets are applicable. This data is saved in a file using the "alm" file extension. The child support worksheets in all states can also be saved in an Adobe PDF format.

In the versions of Support 2017 for Washington and Florida, the respective Financial Declaration/Financial Affidavit form  is saved to a separate file. To save or open a Washington or Florida Financial Declaration/Financial Affidavit file click on the "Save" or "Open" option under the File menu heading at the top of the Financial Declaration/Financial Affidavit Screen.

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Can The Programs Extrapolate Child Support At High Levels Of Combined Incomes?

The Kentucky, Washington and Maryland versions of Support 2017 allow for the extrapolation of child support beyond the limits of their respective state's child support guidelines tables. In particular, The Washington State Child Support Schedule states, "When combined monthly net income exceeds seven thousand dollars, the court may set support at an advisory amount of support set for combined monthly net incomes between five thousand and seven thousand dollars, or the court may exceed the advisory amount of support set for combined monthly net incomes of seven thousand dollars upon written findings of fact." In regards to extrapolations of child support in Kentucky, see the April 6, 2003 opinion in Downing v. Downing, 2003 WL 333011 (Ky App).

In the versions of Support 2017 for Kentucky, Washington and Maryland there are two possible extrapolations of their respective state's child support guideline tables. In Kentucky and Maryland, this is for when the party's combined gross monthly income levels exceed $15,000. While in the Washington version, this is for cases where the party's combined net family exceeds $12,000.

These extrapolations are only recommendations generated by the program and are not advisory or presumptive, and may not reflect what any court may actually decide for each case. These extrapolations can be conducted by clicking on the "Extrapolation Defaults" menu at either the top of the child support report screen or at the top the child support worksheet screen. You can set the method of extrapolation by clicking on one of the options. The option which has been selected as the current default will have a checkmark applied next to it.

If "Extrapolate Using A Linear Regression" is chosen, then Support 2017 will extrapolate using a simple linear regression of the child support table using the following straight line formula:

ChildSupport = (Combined Net Income * A) + B;

where the values for A and B are determined from a linear regression of the specific column at the highest income levels shown in the child support table.

If "Extrapolate Using A Parabolic Regression" is selected from the drop down menu, then Support 2017 will extrapolate using one of the following formulas depending on the particular state version.

Child Support = (Combined Net Income) Y  

Child Support = (A * Combined Gross Income) 1/2 

where the exponent Y and the constant A are derived at the highest income levels shown in the child support table. The value of Y and A will vary depending on the specific column used in the support table.

The linear regression extrapolation method will generate a higher child support figure than the parabolic curve method. The parabolic curve will drop below the straight line regression as combined gross or net monthly incomes increase. The user can also select the option to not use any extrapolations of the child support tables.

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What Is The Defined Benefit Pension Plan Valuation Calculator?

The majority (maybe the vast majority) of defined benefit pension plans are divided by QDRO. A QDRO eliminates any of the actuarial hypotheses about value and are (generally) preferred, particularly where any litigant would rather opt out of these speculations or prefer not to "buy out" the present value. This said, there are still many cases where a "buy out" of value makes sense. And many cases where this is the preference of the parties.

In these cases the value of the plan is derived by (1) calculating the life expectancy of the holder at his or her retirement age, (2) reducing the stream of payments (as projected by the number in (1) to a present value (as of the evaluation date) by using a discount rate, (3) summing the reduced stream of payments and (4) reducing this by the possibility the holder will die prior to the pension going into pay status. This yields a gross value. It is also necessary to reduce the result by an expected tax rate. For more information on Defined Benefit Plans, examine the link located on the Theory and Writings page on this Web Site..

In Support 2017 to find the defined benefit pension plan evaluation program, click on the "Tools" menu at the top of the data entry express screen. A screen printout is available for a hard copy report of the pension valuation calculation.

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