A divorce is very emotional, but you will need to focus on how the bills will be paid.  The costs of a marital lifestyle can be much different than the reasonable needs of the parties and family after a divorce and creation of two households. 

The adjustments that have to be made can be handled more efficiently with a clear picture of how much the joint marital expenses are and what estimated future expenses will be.  

In New Jersey, the Courts require each party to the divorce to file a Case Information Statement listing the joint monthly expenses and current expenses. This form is an excellent tool since it helps identify numerous costs that someone may not think of but is a real cost. This requires collecting records of what your daily and weekly expenses are and arriving at a monthly figure for each.

It becomes necessary to determine estimates of expenses if the parties still reside together. If, for example, you will be renting an apartment, one should get rental estimates. Since spouses are no longer covered under a medical insurance policy after the divorce, the cost of medical coverage should be fully investigated and included in a budget going forward.  

A method of getting accurate figures is to review records of daily and weekly payments you made for at least a year prior to the time the Case Information Statement is to be submitted. You need your bank statements, cancelled checks, credit card statements, and your credit report.  You need to keep records as to cash payments that you make. The more accurate the information, the less confusion and time it can take to resolve the case.

It is critically important for a client to prepare an accurate Case Information Statements.  We often ask our client to look at a minimum of six (6) months of credit card bill and bank statements to get accurate averages and figures.  Sometimes end of year statements that categorize purchases, can be extremely helpful in putting together a budget.  The Case Information Statement requires work but it is a focal point of the case and is definitely worth putting effort into it.  Once good figures are achieved often there can be an Agreement about bills, or if not, a Judge will have to decide.

For a consultation call Helfand & Associates at 973-539-1000, 0ur experienced matrimonial attorneys, handling all aspects of Family Law.

Tanya N. Helfand, Esq. is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney, a Mediator and Panelist in the Morris and Essex County ESP Programs.  The firm welcomes your questions and inquiries at [email protected]. We handle cases in Bergen, Essex, Morris, Hudson, Union, Somerset, Sussex and other New Jersey counties.