How can I do this without merging cells?

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For context, I am an attorney, and I'm using the spreadsheet I'm having problems with to keep track of my cases. To be specific, these are CHINS cases, and I'm a defense attorney representing the parents.

Each row is a client. Then in the columns I have data about the client and their case. (Think date opened, next hearing date, etc.). The problem comes when a client has multiple children. Each child has their own case number, and different birthdates/ages. My instinct is to put each child on a line, then merge the cells that aren't particular to that child. That way I can still have excel calculate each child's age from their date of birth. But then I can't sort by next hearing date or alphabetically by client, and sometimes I want it alphabetical and sometimes I want it chronological. Plus merged cells can create other issues.

Does anyone have a better idea for how to arrange such data?
4 Replies

@ONUnicorn2 Don't use merged cells. They are "evil" and only cause trouble. Just repeat cells for each child, even when they are common for all within the family. Then you can sort, filter how you want. Merge cells and all of this goes away.

What do you mean "repeat cells for each child"?

@ONUnicorn2 You mentioned a client can have multiple children, and I understood that you were merging cells with e.g. the address. All live on the same address, so this is "not particular to one child". Don't do that, but repeat the same address for each child. That way, each row contains all relevant information for each individual.

Thing is I really want one row power client, not one row per child.

Doing it that way, when something like next hearing date changes, I have to remember to change it for all the children, not just for the case, otherwise when I sort by hearing date it gets lost. Also I have a column for notes, and if I duplicate that for each child it becomes unwieldy.