Every family law attorney knows that a case information statement (CIS) is the most important document in any divorce matter. A CIS is the first document that a judge, a bar panelist, a mediator, an arbitrator or any other attorney involved in the matter want to see. The reason for that is the CIS contains almost all the information needed for any of those professionals to determine what is a fair and equitable resolution of the matter and it is certified by the party submitting it that it is true and accurate and therefore can be relied upon. If you don't have a signed CIS you really have nothing from the other side you can rely upon with confidence regarding what representations were made to you.
After an initial preliminary questionnaire to obtain some basic facts, the CIS is the one document every attorney requires his client to fill out when beginning a new case. It doesn't matter whether it is a litigated case, a mediated case or a collaborative law case.
For the litigated case it is a legal requirement under the Court Rules to file a CIS within 20 days after the last response pleading. A party who does not file a CIS will eventually have his or her pleadings dismissed and not allowed to proceed in Court. In a mediated case the mediator has a responsibility to gather all the information required to properly deal with all of the parties issues. While technically this can be done without a formal CIS, the parties would still have to provide all the information required in the CIS, so using the form makes it easier to compile the information in a systematic and orderly way. The same is true of a collaborative Law case.
All right but my case is settled, why do I still need to prepare a case information statement? Two reasons. First, you still need representations that you can rely upon from your spouse regarding what his/her income, expenses, assets and liabilities/debts are. Second, you will need your CIS and your spouse's CIS in the event either party files a motion for modification of alimony or child support at sometime in the future.
Case information statements are the most important documents in any divorce matter. Do not cut corners when you are preparing it. The CIS deserves your time and meticulous attention to detail. If you cannot give the CIS the attention it deserves, hire a professional to assist you in properly completing it. The investment will pay big dividends. It will make your divorce easier to settle or litigate and provide you with the information you will need in the future in the event a motion for modification is filed.