At Lyons & Associates, P.C., we specialize in all aspects of matrimonial and family law. The most important document in any divorce is the Case Information Statement or “CIS”. The “CIS” is a sworn financial affidavit that sets forth five categories of relevant information including personal data, income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. New Jersey Court Rule 5:5-2(a) requires that a Case Information Statement be filed with the Court and served in all contested family actions, except summary actions, in which there is any issue as to custody, support, alimony or equitable distribution. The Court and attorneys rely in large part on the information provided in the Case Information Statements filed by the parties when determining or negotiating the amount of alimony to be paid by the supporting spouse, the amount of child support to be paid by the non-custodial parent, when dividing the parties’ assets and debts for purposes of equitable distribution, and for determining whether one party is in a better financial position than the other and therefore should pay the other party’s counsel fees pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 5:3-5(c).
Therefore, since each party’s Case Information Statement forms the basis for the determination of the issues referenced above, the accuracy and credibility of each party’s Case Information Statement is exceedingly important.
When filling out the Case Information Statement each party must be careful not to understate or inflate their monthly expenses. The lifestyle enjoyed by the parties during the marriage, which serves as the basis for an award of alimony, is established by the monthly expenses listed by the parties’ on their respective Case Information Statements. Pressler & Verniero, Current N.J. Court Rules, Appendix V to Rule 5:5-2(b) at 2540 (2013).
When completing the Case Information Statement a litigant should verify, to the extent possible, the parties’ respective incomes with their most recent tax returns, W-2’s, and their last three pay stubs. In fact, it is required that each party attach their most recent tax return, W-2’s, and last three pay stubs to the Case Information Statement when filing same with the Court and upon service on opposing counsel. Furthermore, to the extent possible, litigants should also verify their monthly expenses by providing credit card statements, monthly bills, such as mortgage statements and utilities, by attaching such documents as exhibits to the Case Information Statement. If a litigant fails to include an expense in his or her Case Information Statement in the beginning of the proceeding, amending the Case Information Statement at a later date to include this expense may lead the Court to believe that the litigant only recently began incurring the expense after the divorce proceeding began and as a result could refuse to include such an expense when calculating an alimony or child support obligation.
It is important for litigants to provide accurate Case Information Statements because the document may be called into question later on in the litigation. Case Information Statements must be filed with the Court before formal discovery is completed. So, therefore, even if the parties are not in possession of all of the documentation reflecting their respective expenses and income, the parties will eventually be able to verify the information set forth in the CIS at a later stage in the proceeding after formal discovery is completed. Further, if a litigant supplies inaccurate information in his or her Case Information Statement, such inaccurate information may be used against that party during cross examination in the event that the matter proceeds to trial. If a litigant provides inaccurate information on his or her Case Information Statement, at trial, the opposing party’s attorney may use the Case Information Statement to impeach that party’s credibility or to make him or her look like a liar to the Court.
On the other hand, if both parties’ submit accurate, comprehensive Case Information Statements early on in the divorce proceeding, this may help the parties come to a swifter resolution of the unresolved issues and would help to keep their legal fees lower than they otherwise would be.
In addition, the accuracy of each party’s Case Information Statement is always relevant as it may be used in a subsequent proceeding after the parties’ divorce. In fact, a party who files a post-judgment motion (motion filed after the parties are divorced) seeking to modify a Judgment for alimony or child support based on a permanent and significant change in financial circumstances must also provide a copy of the prior Case Information Statement or Statements that were filed during the divorce proceeding. R. 5:5-4(a). As a result prior Case Information Statements are always relevant.
Since Case Information Statements are always relevant, litigants must take great care to make sure that the information being provided to the Court and the opposing party’s attorney is truthful and accurately represents the information obtained from the applicable, supporting documentation.
Contact the Law Office of Lyons & Associates
Completing a Case Information Statement may not be a pleasant task, but the importance of this document in divorce litigation and post-judgment litigation cannot be understated. That is why it is so important to have a skilled matrimonial attorney to walk you through the process. If you have questions about a Case Information Statement, or any other aspect of divorce, call Lyons & Associates, P.C. at 908-575-9777, or contact us online.
Written by: Mark T. Gabriel
Dated: June 3, 2013