For the past six months I have really been trying to help a particular client, but her anxiety about sitting down and going over her financial paperwork with me had made it hard for me to help her.
Recently I was finally able to file a court application (i.e. a motion) on her behalf.
She is a very nice lady who was married for a long time to a successful man.
However, as often happens in divorce cases, when the lady told the gentleman that she wanted a divorce, the gentleman's wallet suddenly became, shall we say, "locked."
He cut her off financially.
I had been after her for months to help me learn the financial structure of her marriage so that I could go into Court by way of motion to get her financial help.
But she has been ignoring my requests for information.
Finally, this is what she said:
"Why do I have to fill out that damn financial form?"
As anxious as my client was for me to get into to Court quickly to try to get her some financial help, she was unwilling to find the time to sit down and fill out the appropriate financial paperwork so that I could do my job for her.
As a result of her refusal to do her end of the work, I couldn't get into Court for many months.
She finally ended up in financial difficulty due to her husband's refusal to support her.
This forced her to come to my office and complete her Case Information Statement so that we could file a strong motion with the Court.
Once we had her draft of the Case Information Statement, we were able to revise it, type it up, and have it submitted as part of a temporary support motion to the Court.
The adversary resisted vigorously.
In Court, the Judge considered the paperwork submitted, especially the Case Information Statements of the husband and the wife, and rendered a substantial award of alimony and child support to my client.
My client got a very good result.
But I had to "pull teeth" to get her to do her end.
So why do some people resist completing their CIS?
What exactly IS a NJ Matrimonial Case Information Statement?
The Case Information Statement (CIS) is the financial document that is required by the NJ Court Rules in all divorce cases in New Jersey, and it really quickly becomes the backbone of the entire case.
For example, I use it daily when I negotiate with my adversary on any given case.
Additionally, it is used at mediation so that the mediator understands each party's respective feelings about what the finances of the marriage look like. If we can settle the case at mediation, then the Case Information Statement has served its purpose.
However, if mediation is not successful and if we need to go to Court for a temporary support motion, then the Case Information Statement serves a similar purpose as the backbone of the case. Your CIS provides the judge with your statement on how much income each spouse earns, what the assets are, what the liabilities are, how much it costs for the family to live each month, as well as your spouse's position on these issues.
After carefully reviewing both your CIS and your spouse's CIS, as well as the supporting documents, the judge then will balance what you say the financial position looks like versus what your spouse says the financial position looks like and come up with some type of a temporary support order.
If the case still can't be settled, then the CIS once again becomes the backbone of the case when it is used at trial.
Often, between the day that the case starts and the day that we go to trial, we have to update the Case Information Statement because financial data changes.
People often ask me if they should either overstate expenses or understate certain expenses when preparing their CIS. My answer has been the same for 34 years: tell the truth.
Neither overstating expenses nor understating them is useful or helpful, and both are unlawful as you would be falsely swearing that your statements are true when you know that they are not. False testimony in Court is never a good idea.
NJ Family Court judges want to help people. But people need to give the judges the proper tools so that judges can make proper decisions.
If you are in Divorce Court, be smart. Be proactive. Be helpful.
But most importantly, give your lawyer the tools that he needs to be able to advocate successfully and powerfully for you.
The faster and the more accurately you can get your Case Information Statement finalized, the faster your divorce will end.
The ability of your lawyer to get you a fair amount of child support, alimony, and your fair share of the marital assets hinges on your willingness to work with your lawyer to prepare a full and complete Case Information Statement.
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Steven J. Kaplan, Esq.
Law Practice Specializing In
Divorce and Related Issues
5 Professional Circle
Colts Neck, NJ. 07722