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Question: Why can I not just enter my client data on a screen that looks like my state's financial form (e.g., Affidavit, Net Worth Statement, Disclosure Statement, Schedule of Income and Expense, Case Information Statement, Sworn Financial Statement, etc.)?
As you know if you asked this question, the user enters the data on generic data entry screens that do not look exactly like the state financial form.
The data then carries from that screen into the state financial form.
Here are some of the reasons that we structure the data entry this way:
1. Data organization.
In many states, the data is aggregated at a level that is higher than may be comfortable for the client. For example, the state may have an entry for "utilities," which we break down for the client into electric, gas, water, etc.
2. Data carries.
From the single entry on our forms, data can carry to multiple places. For example, the wage entry will carry to the state financial form, to the child support calculation, to the cash flow calculations that we use in the Negotiation section, and into the tax report.
You might ask why we do not allow the entry that is made on the state financial form to carry all those other places.
The reason is as follows:
When you get to the state financial form, you will see the number carried there (in blue). We then give you the option to override the number on the state financial form. The result is that you can have a different number on the state financial form than is being used in the child support, budget and tax calculations. These things do happen, due to differing time periods that are relevant, special circumstances, etc. If you entered the number directly on the state financial form, you would not be able to have both a single-entry system and also the ability to have different versions of "wages" (and all the other entries) in different places.
3. Tax calculation.
In addition to filling out the financial form, we are also calculating taxes. We may need to ask for the data in a certain organized way, or ask additional questions, in order to get the tax calculation correct. For example, when you enter Health Insurance, we also asked for a Tax Category. When you enter wage-like income, we have a checkbox to allow you to specify that it is nontaxable income. When you enter spousal support, we have a checkbox to allow you to specify that as well. It helps us to have our own forms where we can get this necessary information.
4. Marital versus separate.
For any asset, we allow you to specify a marital and separate portion on the "more info" screen where you enter the item. In many states, we then carry that to separate sections of the financial form. The single data entry for the asset makes that easier.
Because we have a single point of entry for any assets or income item, when you change or delete the item in that one place, we change or delete it everywhere. If you were to enter an income item in one place for child support and a different place for the financial form, and you were to delete it for the financial form, you might forget to delete it also for child support. The single point of entry saves you from making this error.
6. Section on form.
In many states, there are separate sections for different types of assets. In Family Law Software, you indicate the type by selecting from the drop-down list. If you have selected the wrong type, it is easy to change the type simply by changing our selection from the drop-down list. The software will automatically move the asset into the correct section. If you are entering data directly on the form, you would not have this capability.
7. Sequence of assets.
In our data entry screen, we have a button you can click that allows you to change the sequence of the items. This would be more difficult to engineer if the items were being entered directly on a financial form.
8. Data calculations.
For purposes of the tax and financial forms, the software can calculate mortgage interest for the current year, based on the mortgage balance, monthly payment, and current interest rate. This is a much more accurate figure them last year's mortgage interest, which people used prior to the introduction of Family Law Software. In order to do this calculation, though, we have to ask for the balance, monthly payment, and current interest rate. These entries may not be on the financial form, and it is much easier for us to have our own form where we can ask them in a nicely-organized fashion.