Babies' mamas (or daddies) in Tennessee can now determine how much child support they're owed without meeting an attorney.
If all goes as planned, Memphis attorney William Jones IV's child support calculator app for iPhones, Android phones, and iPads will be available starting today.
Jones, also known as "Lawyer Bill" to listeners of 98.1 The Max's morning radio program, recently hired an information technology firm to create the child support calculator he says is much easier to use than the state's version. App users can determine how much child support they're owed by entering income information.
"This is the first I've heard of anyone doing that," said Ann Fritz, executive director of the Memphis Bar Association.
Although the state of Tennessee offers a free child support calculator, it's Microsoft compatible and doesn't translate to popular mobile devices such as iPhones and Androids, Jones said.
With the popularity of iPads, apps are becoming even more pervasive, intuitive, and easy to use — an environment that, to Jones, is rife with possibilities in Tennessee and elsewhere.
"If you're a working mom or dad, you don't want to wait two weeks and pay $300 to see an attorney to find out if your child support is going down," Jones said.
That's why Jones started a second business about three months ago called iLawyer Apps to inform people in the legal field about the latest technological innovations. It's also where Jones can customize and personalize apps for other attorneys.
Kevin Sherwood, principal of Memphis-based Helix Business Solutions, led the team that made Jones' app idea into a digital reality. In Sherwood's opinion, mobile devices are becoming a "game changer," and the possibilities for Jones' ideas are nothing short of tremendous.
"I think we're on the front edge of just a major explosion in those kinds of applications," Sherwood said.
Jones is getting ready to release a higher-end version of the child support app for attorneys. The pro version, to be released next week if approved by Apple, would cost $14.99. It allows lawyers not only to calculate child support payments to the penny, but to generate the official worksheets that must be filled out by divorcing moms and dads. Lawyers can even print the documents during court proceedings and then hand them to the judge once completed.
"It's not just bad news for deadbeat dads," Jones said. "It's good news for folks who have taken a hit in this economy and aren't working as much."
Jones is a self-avowed techno geek. He says he was one of the first in line for the iPad when it was released in April because of how it would be able to help streamline his practice.
He used to trudge through the courthouse lugging a laptop and thick paper files inside a wheeled suitcase. All of that has changed for the attorney who began practicing in 2001.
"Now I've got a thin little satchel," Jones said, gesturing to his trusty iPad. "This thing holds my entire [client] database."