The Case Information Statement, or “CIS”, is an extremely important document setting forth a person’s budget, income, assets, and liabilities. Pursuant to New Jersey Court Rule 5:5-2(a), a CIS is required to be filed 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 will rely on the CIS to determine the issues. Notably, in a divorce action, the CIS must filed within 20 days after the filing of an Answer or Appearance.

The CIS, which can be found here, has seven parts to it (Parts A-G). It is crucial that all of the information contained in the CIS is accurate as of the date it is filled out because you are signing it under oath. It is therefore subject to penalty of perjury and you can be cross-examined as to its contents when you filled it out.

Part A deals with the “Case Information,” which includes the date of the marriage, date of filing of the divorce complaint, the parties’ names and addresses and the children’s information. Part B deals with “Miscellaneous Information,” such as employer, insurance information, and list of prior family court proceedings.

Part C asks for “Income Information,” which includes last year’s income, this year’s income, year-to-date earned income, unearned income (unemployment, disability, social security, rental income, etc.). It also includes a list of questions relating to how you earn your income.

Part D is the most widely used portion of the CIS as it calls for your “Monthly Expenses” or monthly budget on how you live. For the purposes of filling out the CIS, a month is considered 4.3 weeks. The budget is broken into three sections: Shelter, Transportation, and Personal expenses. Shelter includes rent or mortgage payment, utilities, phone, internet, cable. Transportation includes auto payments, insurance, and gas. Personal expenses is pretty much everything else that you spend your money, for example, food, dry cleaning, haircare, medical expenses, hobbies, daycare expenses, vacations, and entertainment. There are two columns for your budget: one for your budget while you were married (if applicable) and one for your current budget. It is important that you only include items that you actually pay for. If you are going through a divorce and your spouse has been paying the mortgage, then you do not include it in your current budget. Once your budget is determined, it is used to determine if there is a need for support or an ability to provide support based on your earnings.

Part E is also extremely important as it shows your personal net worth by setting forth your assets and liabilities. Your assets should include your real property, bank accounts, vehicles, tangible real properties, stocks and bonds, pension or retirement accounts, interest in any business, cash value of life insurance and any loans receivable. Likewise, your liabilities should list your real estate mortgages, long term debts, revolving charges (credit cards), short term debts, and contingent liabilities. Part E will be used to help aid the court determine equitable distribution.

Part F gives you the opportunity to explain special problems relating to your case, such as complex valuation problems, or serious medical conditions. It can also be used to explain that your budget includes an anticipated cost, such as rent, for example, if you have to move to a new residence once the divorce is complete.

Finally, Part G is a checklist for all documents that must be filed along with the CIS. This includes your three most recent paystubs, tax returns, W2’s, and 1099’s.

The court will rely upon your Case Information Statement to determine support, alimony and equitable distribution. Therefore, it is extremely important that the information contained is accurate. It is important that you take the time to fill it out. I suggest you contact me when it comes time for you to fill out your CIS.