What is a Case Information Statement?

The completion and filing of a Case Information Statement (CIS) is required in all contested divorce actions where equitable distribution, custody, alimony, or child support is at issue in the case. There are also other family actions where a CIS may be required by Court Order, Court Rules or a party’s discovery request. The CIS is extremely important in divorce litigation for a variety of reasons — perhaps the most important is the ability for it to reveal the truth about the financial situation in a family. The CIS must be fully completed, filed and served with all of the required attachments.

Among the many pieces of information required include the income of both spouses/partners, a budget of joint lifestyle expenses, a budget of current personal lifestyle expenses, including the expenses of children, an itemization of the amounts which you may be paying in support for your spouse/partner or children if you are contributing to their support, and a summary of the value of all assets (including real property, bank accounts, vehicles, tangible personal property, stocks, bonds, pensions, retirements accounts, businesses, and the like).

It is extremely important to devote a significant amount of time and energy to completing this length form to ensure it is as accurate as possible. In fact, the CIS states in bold that “It is extremely important that the Case Information Statement be as accurate as possible because you are required to certify that the contents of the form are true.” One of the major purposes of the CIS is to help establish the cost of each spouse’s lifestyle, providing a basis for a realistic calculation of alimony/spousal support and child support.

An oversight that often occurs is the failure of a party to review their financial documents in preparing their CIS budget to ensure that the claimed expenses are supported and substantiated. The CIS instructions require that “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.” Furthermore, any valuations of assets which are provided should be based on appraisals or current statements.

Sometimes, a party may not have had access to financial information. Instead of taking guesses at filling out a CIS, it is appropriate to enter “TBD” (to be determined) as a response to any information request about which the party has no knowledge or is unsure. That information can be provided as it is learned in discovery. It is also extremely important to note that if your financial circumstances change after the CIS has been filed, or when you know the responses for which you answered “TBD,” you must update the CIS.

There is no doubt that the CIS must be taken seriously. The effort exhibited upfront in filling out this form as completely and accurately as possible will help make the divorce process more efficient. The family law attorneys at Arons & Solomon can help ensure that the CIS is filled out timely and comprehensively. Contact us today.