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The Importance of the Case Information Statement in New Jersey Divorce Proceedings

by | May 3, 2024 | Divorce, Family Law

Divorce proceedings can be simple or extremely complex. There are many factors that determine which type of case a couple choosing to end their marriage will endure, and those will vary from case to case. One thing that almost all New Jersey divorce cases have in common, however, whether it be one that resolves in a couple of months or drags out for years, is the existence and importance of a Case Information Statement (CIS). The CIS is composed of 8 parts: Parts A and B for case and party information; Part C for income information; Part D for monthly expenses, broken down into Schedule A (Shelter), Schedule B (Transportation), and Schedule C (Personal); Part E for a balance sheet of all assets and liabilities for both parties; Part F for a statement of any special or additional problems; and Part G, which lists required attachments.

As one could glean from just an introduction to the different sections, the CIS sets forth all the economic information pertinent to a divorce. Each party files their own, with relevant corresponding documents, such as tax returns, bank statements, retirement account statements, etc. Divorce cases are unique because these parties are not strangers; they often already know a lot, if not everything, about the other person and their financial circumstances. Discovery, to the extent that it occurs in an average civil litigation or criminal case, is not always needed. The CIS, however, is something that parties will likely exchange, sometimes before a complaint is even filed. This document allows parties and their respective lawyers to do two important things – first, get an idea of what the other person is representing that they have, and second, determine what an equitable proposal for settlement may look like in consideration of those representations.

The CIS is especially important when one party files a motion for Alimony Pendente Lite (APL). APL is temporarily alimony awarded from a higher earning to lower earning spouse that continues through the pendency of the divorce and typically terminates upon an entry of a final decree. The main objective of this type of temporary alimony is to allow the lower earning spouse to enjoy a lifestyle equivalent to that which he or she enjoyed during the marriage. This could look like a monthly payment or, alternatively, it could look like the higher earning spouse maintaining the “status quo,” meaning that they continue maintaining whatever expenses they had been previously. When reviewing an application for APL, a judge is going to rely heavily on the CIS, particularly Part D listing monthly expenses, to decide what amount would be enough to allow the petitioning spouse to maintain their previous lifestyle. Without this information, a judge is not going to be able to make an accurate finding.

In sum, the CIS is an all-encompassing document that, if done right, will be referred to time and time again during all stages of a New Jersey divorce and, hopefully, facilitate negotiating a settlement favorable to both sides.

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