One of the most important documents when filing for divorce, from inception to conclusion, is your Case Information Statement (“CIS”). This document, which must be filed with the court lists your family’s income, assets, liabilities and monthly expenses. Pursuant to Rule 5:5-2(b), a CIS is required to be filed twenty (20) days after the filing of an Answer or Appearance. It is the court’s first look into what the parties to divorce have and do not. When a court is determining what an appropriate award of alimony will be at the conclusion of trial, evaluating your and your spouse’s monthly expenditures is extremely important.
A recent unpublished Appellate Division case, Baptiste v. Baptiste, discussed the importance of evaluating the “marital lifestyle” when determining what an appropriate award of alimony may be. In this instance, the Appellate Division reversed and directed a new trial court judge to make findings of fact about the parties’ expenses. Specifically, the Appellate Division found the Trial Court’s conclusory statements about what money was spent on, instead of exactly what money was spent, was insufficient.
It is important when preparing your CIS that the document reflects your actual expenditures. You should be able to provide three months’ worth of credit card statements, bank statement and receipts which reflect your expenditures. It may be important at trial to supply that information to the court in order to justify and substantiate the expenditures in your CIS.
In addition, parties to divorce are under a continuing duty to amend their CIS to reflect any major changes. For example, if one party loses their job, this would be a material change. Or to the contrary, if one party receives a substantial pay raise, the CIS must be updated to provide the court with this new information. In addition, your CIS is required to be updated at least twenty (20) days prior to trial. If you do not do so, this updated information may be barred from trial and the court will not consider it when making its final determination.
Accordingly, involving your attorney in the preparation of your CIS is of the utmost importance. It is important to protect yourself during a divorce action and here at Shane and White we are committed to your matrimonial and family law needs. Please contact our office at 732-819-9100 to set up a consultation today.