Online calculator adds support

To make it easier for people to apply for child support, and thereby get more people to sign on to child support programs, Oregon has developed an online calculator that can estimate the amount of support that can be ordered on a case-by-case basis.

The Oregon Division of Child Support (DCS) expects the calculator (dcs.state.or.us/calculator) will ease anxieties that people may have with the child support system. The system requires that a range of information be dug up and assimilated and then used to fill out a number of complex paper forms.

"A lot of our clients say the whole process is, in fact, too complex," said Kevin Neely, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office in Oregon's Department of Justice, which houses the DCS. "In fact it is so complex that many of them felt they would have to go to an accountant or lawyer to get it worked out, and most of those applying for support are obviously not in a position to afford that."

The amount of money that people estimate using the online calculator may not be the support they actually get once their case is heard by a DCS administrator, hearings office or court. But it will be a "very close" estimate of what they can expect, Neely said.

The first version of the calculator provides a standard calculation of support. More complex calculations — covering such things as shared custody, split custody and the application of rebuttals — will be added in future versions.

Robinson is a freelance journalist based in Portland, Ore.

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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