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Question: Family Law Software is giving me a different result than FinPlan, EasySoft, SupportCalc, DPA (Divorce Power Analyzer), DissoMaster, or some other program. How can I get them to match?
Answer: If the difference is slight, it could be because Family Law Software updates its tax numbers immediately at the start of a new year, and some of these other programs take weeks or even months to do so.
For other products, please continue with this FAQ:
All of these other products generally give the right child support results. And, so far as we are aware, so does Family Law Software.
So, for more dramatic differences, the difference is usually because of a different data entry in the two products.
Here are the steps to take to determine where the difference lies:
1. Check for overrides.
Check each line of the Child Support Guideline Worksheet, looking for numbers that have been overridden. Overridden entries will appear in red.
An overridden entry indicates that a portion of the software's calculation has been ignored, and the overridden entry substituted for what the software would calculate at that point.
You probably want to clear the override, so the software's calculation can be used. To clear the override, click on the red entry, and then click the button that pops up.
See if this resolves the differences. If not, continue to step 2.
2. Check the tax calculation.
If your state has federal income taxes as a deduction for child support purposes, see if the two programs' tax calculations are different.
In most of the cases where guideline numbers are different from different programs, the reason derives from different tax results.
a. Check Family Law Software's federal income taxes, and state income taxes if they are used in the calculation you are examining. Compare to the other program's tax numbers.
b. If they are different, go to the View/Edit Taxes screen in Family Law Software.
c. Check the View/Edit Taxes screen for overrides. As before, probably you would want to clear the override by clicking on the red number and then clicking the button that pops up.
Also, please be aware that, in every state where the tax calculation is a factor in child support except New Jersey (which uses a fixed table) or New York (which uses FICA and Medicare but not Federal Income Tax), the software uses "actual" taxes, not payroll deductions.
Please be aware that taxes for guideline purposes may be different than those shown on the View/Edit Taxes screen.
d. Print out the other program's tax calculation, and print the View/Edit Taxes report from Family Law Software.
e. Lay these next to each other and go line by line, comparing them.
f. Explore and reconcile any differences. If the taxes are different, you probably now understand the reason for the difference in guideline results. If you want to use the other program's tax numbers in the Family Law Software guideline calculation, you can override the Family Law Software tax numbers with the other program's number.
g. See if this resolves the differences. If not, continue to step 3.
3. Check each line of both programs' guideline worksheets or Budget Reports.
a. If you have not identified the reason for the difference yet, print out both program's child support guideline worksheets. If you are looking at net income general, not child support in particular, use the Budget Report from Family Law Software and the analogous report from the other program.
b. Set them side by side, and compare the print-outs line by line.
c. The first line that has a difference probably affects every line after that. So clear up that difference.
d. Then repeat the process, until there are no more differences.