In New Jersey, after the complaint for divorce and answering pleadings are filed with the family court, both parties must prepare a “case information statement.” The case information statement, or CIS, is a detailed snapshot of the financials of your case. The required information includes your income, your spouse's/partner's income, a budget of your joint life style expenses, a budget of your current life style expenses including the expenses of your children, if applicable, and an accounting of your assets and liabilities. When drafting a CIS it is important to understand what you are using the CIS for. You will
be using the CIS for negotiating alimony and child support, determining equitable distribution, and
determining the marital lifestyle. It is essential to draft the CIS with the understanding that you will be
using it at trial. It is worth taking the time to go over the CIS thoroughly with your attorney before filing.
You will be cross examined by the other side for inconsistencies or inaccuracies. You must be able to
explain the information contained in the CIS. You can provide explanations in the CIS itself and attach all documents that help explain the items. A lot of attorney’s do not think to add explanations into the CIS itself, but we have found that it assists our client, the adversary, and most importantly the court in
understanding what all of the numbers mean.

It is important to note that you can always update the CIS as often as you need to when there is a change in circumstances. Under the court rules you can amend your CIS up to 20 days before the final hearing. Updating your CIS during the current COVID-19 pandemic is critical. There is no question that COVID-19 changed the way we live and how we spend. For example you might not be spending as much on dry cleaning or commuting, but you are spending a lot more on restaurants and groceries. You can note in your CIS what the expense are currently and what they were pre COVID to offer a better understanding of what your marital lifestyle actually is. Another example is real estate, in New Jersey your home might be worth more now than it was one year ago. If you are seeking a buy out for real estate purchased during the marriage, you will want your CIS to reflect what it is worth now.

It is equally important that you and your attorney go through the adversary’s CIS thoroughly. It is our responsibility to ensure that their CIS is correct and accurate. A thorough review of your adversary’s CIS can either enhance or reduce the amount of support you are seeking or are being asked to pay.

In short, the key to drafting a CIS that will be beneficial to you is choosing the right attorney that will take the time to go through it with you and pry out all of the important details that you might not be
considering when going through your divorce. The CIS is really one of the most critical aspects of a
divorce case – careful personalization is necessary. Except for custody, divorces are really “about the
numbers” and it is important for the numbers to be right and make sense. At Helfand & Associates we are very careful in preparing your CIS and we work with our clients to prepare the best CIS for your
matter. Please call for a consultation to see how Helfand & Associates can help you with your matter.