The Case Information Statement Budget
The Case Information Statement (hereinafter “CIS”) is a financial disclosure document that must be filed (and kept updated) as part of a divorce proceeding or as part of any court application seeking to address support-related issues. There is a uniform CIS that is to be utilized statewide in all matters. The information included in the CIS summarizes one’s income, expenses, assets and liabilities.
For most people the most difficult part of preparing their CIS is the monthly budget of expenses, which is found on pages six and seven of the current CIS template. The budget is broken down into three categories (shelter, transportation and personal) with specific line item expenses under each category. There are also two separate columns. The left column is to represent the joint marital lifestyle. The right column is to represent your current expenses. The two most common questions asked about the CIS budget are (1) how do I go about preparing the budget and (2) how accurate does the budget need to be?
As to how one goes about preparing their budget, there is no single correct method. But, here are some helpful hints. First, review your bank account and credit card statements. Second, there are many expenses that are typically fixed every month such as the mortgage, car payments, car insurance, association fees and the like. Third, as to utility expenses that have varied balances depending upon the season and/or usage, one suggestion is to calculate the annual expense and then divide by twelve. Fourth, the same analysis can be utilized for many of the personal expense line items. Take gifts for example. Calculate what you typically spend every year on holidays, birthdays and other gifts and divide by twelve. Finally, be careful about representing expenses more than once. For example, if your medical insurance is paid by way of a deduction from your income then it is not necessary to also list it as an expense on your CIS budget as it is presumed that the expenses listed are being paid with net (after taxes and other deductions) income. Or, do not list the weekly trip to the movies as both an entertainment and a parenting time expense.
Given this estimation and/or averaging it is recognized that the CIS budget is not always a precise calculation. So, how accurate do you need to be? The short answer is as accurate as possible. The budget/marital lifestyle is a very important factor when assessing alimony. Do not be embarrassed. If the true lifestyle was that you spent heavily on restaurants or clothing or what have you then list that expense. However, do not over-inflate your expenses as a way to posture your alimony claim. If your supposed budget does not reasonably line up with income and debt then its credibility will be called into question.
The final piece of advice – do not stress over preparing your CIS, especially the budget. Your attorney, who has prepared countless other CIS’, is in a position to assist you as necessary.
All of the attorneys at Domers & Bonamassa are well versed and have years of experience addressing family law issues, no matter how complicated. Contact us today at (856) 596-2888 for a private consultation. We appear in the following counties: Burlington, Camden, Gloucester, Cumberland, Salem, Mercer, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May. Our practice areas include: divorce, custody, parenting time, child support, alimony, domestic violence, college expenses, equitable distribution, name changes, step parent adoptions, paternity issues, child abuse and neglect, prenuptial agreements, mediation and arbitration.
This posting is provided by Domers & Bonamassa, P.C. for their clients, advisors and other interested persons. Since technical information is presented in a generalized fashion, the communication is not meant to replace the need for competent professional advice and the reader should understand that the information contained in or made available through this communication is not intended to be a substitute for the services of trained professionals. As such, the reader should evaluate and bear all risks associated with the use of any comments, including any reliance on accuracy, completeness, or usefulness of such content.