If you are just starting the divorce process, you may have come across a document called the "Case Information Statement". Also known as a CIS, this document is filed as part of a civil complaint in many court systems throughout the United States. In the case of divorce, a CIS is filed by spouses who are in disagreement over issues such as custody, child support and property division. As the name implies, a CIS requires information about the case, including details about the children, the family finances, and each spouse's employment, or lack thereof. This sounds easy enough until you realize how much information is required in order to answer these questions. For example, just the issue of income requires that you detail earned, as well as unearned income from this year and the past year. You will also need to submit a meticulous list of monthly expenses for you and your children. These expenses may include a vast number of categories, depending on your properties, financial obligations and personal expenses. As with any court case, you will need to include supporting documentation in the forms of pay stubs, W2s, tax returns and account statements for all your bank, investment and retirement accounts.
As you can imagine, drafting a CIS is overwhelming, especially when dealing with the stress of a contentious divorce. Because of the importance of filing the most accurate information possible, you should not draft a CIS without assistance from an attorney. An experienced family law attorney will be familiar with the wording and format preferred by the New Jersey superior courts. In addition, your attorney will ask you many questions to ensure that you are submitting accurate and truthful information. This is important for two reasons: 1) the more accurate the information, the better your chances of winning a favorable settlement; 2) omitting or forgetting to include information may be seen as a legal violation. The court may not find out about these omissions, but it's possible that it may be brought to their attention, especially if your spouse wants to appeal the verdict. Even if it was an honest mistake, accusations of hiding assets and lying about your taxes are serious charges, which are punishable by excessive fines and possible jail time.
While the idea of saving money by filing on your own is tempting, a poorly drafted or incomplete CIS will cost you more money than going to a lawyer in the first place. If you have to resubmit the CIS, your case may be delayed or dismissed, which means you may have to start the process all over again. It could also reflect badly on your character, thereby destroying your credibility with the court. To ensure that your divorce filing is accurate from start to finish, please schedule a free consultation with the family law attorneys of Villani & DeLuca, P.C. Our lawyers can assist you with any divorce related service, including mediation, litigation and collaborative divorce.