If you are going through the process of divorcing in the State of New Jersey, the Court will require you and your spouse to file a “Case Information Statement.” This is a document which summarizes the finances of the marriage. Generally, the Case Information Statement asks you to provide your income, your spouse’s income, the average spending over the course of one year, and list all assets and liabilities. Court Rules require the filing of Case Information Statements within twenty (20) days of the filing of “responsive pleadings” in a divorce case, which typically means within the first few months of the divorce action.
The information provided in the respective Case Information Statements informs the Court and the litigants of the financial issues that must be resolved at the conclusion of your case. For instance, if the Case Information Statements show a significant difference in each party’s income, it is likely the issue of alimony will need to be addressed. The amount of alimony that must be paid may be influenced by the level of marital spending shown on the Case Information Statements. This is commonly referred to as the “marital lifestyle.”
The Case Information Statements will also inform the Court regarding what assets need to be divided, as well as any significant debt to be divided. Depending on the nature of the asset, the Court will know whether appraisals or valuations will be necessary. For example, if a business is listed as an asset, the Court will know that an expert will need to be hired to value the business. Other assets that typically require specialized valuations include retirement accounts, such as pensions. If valuations of these assets are necessary, the Court typically expects the parties to retain valuation experts within a specific timeframe.
Frequently, the preparation of a Case Information Statement is the first time each spouse has examined the marriage’s finances in detail. Thus, it is common for each party’s Case Information Statement to differ significantly. As the divorce case progresses and more information is gathered, the litigants are expected to update their Case Information Statements with the Court. Under Court Rules, an update is also required no later than twenty (20) days before trial. Although trial is rare, filing updates with the Court as more information is learned can be an effective way of keeping the Court informed of the progress of your case and alerting the Court to any special problems that may be hampering resolution.
Your Case Information Statement may be the most important document you file with the Court, and it is essential that it be prepared correctly. If you are considering a divorce or in the process of preparing a Case Information Statement, contact us for a consultation.