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Related Practices and Jurisdictions

Wednesday September 19, 2018

Preparing a Case Information Statement (“CIS”) is often one of the most overwhelming and time-consuming tasks parties face at the beginning of their divorce case. Still, it is an essential document that serves as the cornerstone of any divorce proceeding, especially with disputed family matters that involve child support, child support, or fair distribution. A well-designed CIS is especially important as it can ultimately affect how wealth is divided and how much child support and / or child support is awarded by a court. The CIS will be signed by you under oath as to its truth. Therefore, it can be used as a dispute later in the case.

Under the New Jersey Court Rules, a CIS must be filed in court and served on the opponent within 20 days of filing a response to a divorce suit or other time the court may determine. The format to be followed when completing a CIS is very specific. Click the link below to access the CIS form required by Appendix V of the Judicial Rules.

A CIS is divided into 7 parts as follows:

  1. Part A – Case Information
  2. Part B – Other Information
  3. Part C – Income Information
  4. Part D – Monthly Expenses
  5. Part E – Balance Sheet of Total Family Assets and Liabilities
  6. Part F – Presentation of special problems
  7. Part G – Required Appendices

In preparing Part A, one party should:

  1. Include relevant information such as the date of marriage, date of complaint, and date of separation. This data is important as it can affect the division of marital property between the parties.
  2. Identify the points of contention, some of which may only arise in your marriage, such as drug and / or alcohol abuse by a spouse or loss of marital property, etc., and then review these points to make sure they are included in your complaint or counterclaim are included for divorce.

In preparing Part B, one party should:

  1. For the court, highlight any previous / pending family actions that involve assistance, custody, or domestic violence. Understanding the family history is very important for the court and will help paint the picture that you want the court to see.
  2. Include information about a party’s employment and insurance coverage. The law requires each party to maintain the status quo with all insurance until the divorce. Therefore, all insurance policies that have already been sued for divorce must be continued during the divorce.

In preparing Part C, a party should:

  1. Use income documents such as pay slips, W-2s, and tax returns to calculate the previous year’s income; present earned income and expenses; and current year earned and unearned income from all sources to date. These numbers and their accuracy play a very important role in determining a party’s need and / or ability to pay maintenance and / or child support in the appropriate cases.
  2. Include all information about a party’s income including, but not limited to: annual salary, salary increases, bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, other compensation in cash or in kind (including dividends, stock options, restricted shares, and deferred compensation). Be sure to include all income, whether or not it is currently taxable. Material executive compensation may include assets and income that are not currently appearing on a tax return or payroll. In addition, it must be noted in the CIS whether a party receives unemployment, disability and / or social security benefits or pays or receives maintenance or child benefit. All of this information and the way in which it is disclosed will help develop your position on child support and / or child support (either as a payer or a recipient) and to help the court understand you and your finances and sources Family to better understand the income.

In preparing Part D, a party should:

  1. Take into account monthly expenses, which relate to three main categories including accommodation, transportation, and personal expenses. These categories are also known as “Schedule A, B, and C” issues. In cases where child support and / or child support is an issue, this section of your CIS is key to establishing the “marital standard of living”. Part D is absolutely critical in laying the foundation for your child support positions.
  2. List the expenses of these three categories in as much detail as possible so as not to overlook important costs such as the maintenance and repair of a house or apartment; Travel expenses and / or childcare expenses, to name a few.
  3. Notice that Part D has two columns, one for “shared” expenses and the other for “ongoing” expenses. The column “Together” should represent your marital standard of living. When deciding how best to portray this lifestyle, you should discuss with your lawyer which years should be analyzed. Factors such as repetitive versus one-off expenses in different years and the legal positions you intend to hold in relation to child support and child support will help you make this decision strategically. Discuss with your lawyer whether to separate your children’s or even your spouse’s expenses from total expenses, again depending on your personal and legal issues. The “Ongoing” expenses column should be used when you are separated from your spouse. Note that the assistance you pay / receive during a breakup can set an important precedent for future financial decisions by the court.
  4. Hire a forensic accountant to perform a lifestyle analysis on your behalf if you don’t know how to complete Part D or if you and your spouse have materially different information about your marital standard of living.

In preparing Part E, a party should:

  1. Gather documents on the date of the divorce petition relating to all the family’s assets and liabilities, such statements relating to mortgages; Current / savings account (s); IRAs; Stocks and bonds; and revolving fees like credit cards and / or student loans.
  2. In particular, note which assets, if any, should be excluded or partially excluded. Was property acquired prior to marriage or by inheritance? Often, retirement assets are partially exempt and should be noted as such. This is especially important to help the court decide which assets may not be subject to equitable distribution.

In preparing Part F, a party should:

  1. Explain any specific issues pertaining to your divorce matter. This can include a complex assessment problem relating to a closely run business or unique medical problems and / or disabilities of a family member.

Finally, when preparing Part G, a party should remember to attach the following to their CIS:

  1. The latest federal and state income tax returns with all attachments and attachments;
  2. The W-2 extracts, 1099 extracts and / or K-1 extracts from the last calendar year;
  3. The three most recent pay slips;
  4. A list of all previous / pending family actions related to support, custody, or domestic violence; and
  5. All agreements between the parties (e.g. pre- or post-marital agreements).

Creating a detailed and personalized CIS is key to giving the court an accurate picture of your finances. While it may appear that the CIS is just a form to fill out, nothing could be further from the truth. It can be an important promotional item that reflects information about your lifestyle and forms the basis for your future legal positions. It is a document that the court will refer to on an ongoing basis throughout your divorce proceeding, including during mediation and / or trial. It is therefore extremely important to fill it in carefully and truthfully. Advice from an experienced family law attorney with an understanding of the complex financial issues that can arise in your divorce proceedings should Done at the beginning of your case to ensure that potential issues such as child support, alimony, or fair distribution are strategically addressed before preparing your CIS.

© Copyright 2021 Sills Cummis & Gross PCNational Law Review, Volume VIII, Number 262

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