As your family starts to deal with the changes that come with the financial impact of COVID-19, you and your attorney will have many questions about your personal and business finances. In New Jersey, all courts require financial disclosures on a form called the “Family Part Case Information Statement.” If you prepared the “CIS” before March 2020, and if your life has changed since then, it is time to update that CIS.
Everyone filing for divorce in New Jersey uses the same form for financial disclosure, to ensure that each party has the same information. It also helps Judges, mediators, and arbitrators to assess the parties’ situation, including what assets and liabilities might be divided, how much each party earns, and how much everyone spends. We provide our clients with an electronic data input form, to be filled in, saved as a “Word” document, and emailed back to us. We then import the data into the software approved by the New Jersey Courts for final formatting and review by you.
You will need to disclose your income, a budget of your joint lifestyle expenses, a budget of your current lifestyle expenses including the expenses for the house, transportation, and personal costs, and a summary of the value of all assets and current debts, to show your total financial circumstances. Your Case Information Statement must be as accurate as possible because you are required to certify that the contents of the form are true. It helps establish your lifestyle which is an important component of alimony/spousal support if any is appropriately considered. The monthly expenses must be reviewed and should be based on actual expenditures such as those shown from checkbook registers, bank statements, or credit card statements from the past 24 months. The asset values should be taken, if possible, from actual appraisals or account statements. If the values are estimates, it should be noted that they are estimates. It is also very important that you attach copies of relevant documents as required by the Case Information Statement, including your most recent tax returns with W-2 forms, 1099s, and current income information.
To make this as easy as possible, find as many of the following documents as you can:
- 2019 income tax returns
- 2018, 2019 plus year-to-date bank statements and credit card statements
- 2019 and 2020 investment or retirement account statements
- Current mortgage statement, showing the balance due, interest rate, monthly payment, escrow for taxes, and insurance.
- Vehicles – lease or loan agreements or recent/ current statements.
- Your credit report and your social security earnings history from ssa.gov.
Preparing the CIS takes time and careful attention to detail. It must be updated when it is out-of-date, especially after any type of big financial change such as you may have experienced due to COVID-19 or the recent economic upheaval. We understand the importance of your CIS and that your finances may include much more than we can address on this standardized form. Talk to your lawyer about adding footnotes, comments, and attachments so that you use this opportunity to explain your situation to the Court and your spouse as clearly as possible. The experienced family law team at Cohn Lifland can help you, answer your questions, and provide additional assistance with making this full financial disclosure, for everyone’s benefit in protecting your family’s finances.