Headed to Family Court? Failing to Submit the Proper Financial Information Could Cost You
In the past, we've emphasized the vital importance of filing a completed, accurate case information statement (or “CIS”) whenever heading to New Jersey family court for a support or custody matter. Without this document and accompanying financial information (including W-2's, 1099's, tax returns and pay stubs), the Court can't properly assess your financial circumstances and pass judgment on your requested relief. In fact, New Jersey Court Rule 5:5-2(a) requires litigants to submit a completed CIS in any action where “there is any issue as to custody, support, alimony or equitable distribution.” A recent unpublished (and therefore not precedential or binding) decision from the New Jersey Appellate Division drives home exactly how critical a case information statement can be to your chances before the judge… In the recently released unpublished appellate decision Kilgore v. Kilgore, a two-judge panel addressed a post-divorce motion which turned, in part, on the sufficiency of financial information provided by the filing party. The Husband and Wife had been divorced for three years when Husband filed a motion to compel Wife to contribute to their daughters' child support and college expenses among other requested relief (Remember: in New Jersey, college expenses are considered independent of child support). The motion judge denied the rest of Husband's motion with prejudice, but only denied the child support and college expenses component “without prejudice,” meaning Husband could refile his application along with the proper financial information. Which information was he missing? In Kilgore specifically, the Husband's submitted case information statement contradicted his reported income. He also failed to (1) submit documentation as to the actual college expenses (such as a term bill or transcript) and he did not (2) substantiate his daughters' incomes; this was considered a major problem since the children's ability to pay for college and actual need for support are, again, key elements of the New Jersey college contribution analysis. Acknowledging that the Husband had, indeed, “provided insufficient and/or inconsistent information to permit the court to make a determined,” the Appellate Court decided that the trial court should have ordered a “plenary hearing” (or limited issue trial) to resolve the outstanding issues of fact. The issues of child support and college contribution were subsequently remanded to the trial court for a plenary hearing. That frankly may have been the end result either way, but it is also true that the Husband may have avoided the extra expense of a lengthy appeal altogether had he simply provided the correct financial information in the first place. We can help. If you are grappling with a support, custody, or other family law-related matter in New Jersey, a DeMichele & DeMichele attorney will walk you through the process of successfully completing a case information statement. The first goal is always accuracy and full candor. We also provide our clients with detailed CIS instructions in order to make the navigation of this formidable document a little less frightening! This is the Court's primary means to evaluate your finances, assets, liabilities and credibility, too. Making a good first impression can yield dividends down the road. So please don't rush it! This is an important document and a key stage of your process. But always remember: you don't have to go through this alone! If you or a loved one have questions regarding alimony, child support, equitable distribution, custody, or other family court matters requiring the submission of a case information statement, please contact the New Jersey family law attorneys at DeMichele & DeMichele. Your confidential, initial consultation is only a click or call away. Call now to speak to one of our matrimonial attorneys at (856) 546-1350 or click here to contact us online.