Case Information Statement and Financial Documents for Divorce

By Star Young

As you prepare for a divorce you will need all of your financial documents as part of the process. You will be required to complete a Case Information Statement to file for divorce. You will become very familiar with the Case Information Statement, a.k.a CIS, which also serves to outline the financial documents you need.

Here is a link to the form.

People often feel overwhelmed when they start the CIS, especially if they haven’t participated in the household finances. It is best to approach this as a positive action, designed to empower you. Even if you haven’t decided to file, the CIS gives a financial snapshot and better prepares you for the documents you need to obtain. Also, it can serve as your household budget if you don’t already have one.

I have helped numerous people with the CIS who feel this is a daunting task and sometimes actually feel paralyzed by it. My suggestion is to start the CIS in steps. Give yourself a set amount of time each day to complete sections of the form and/or find the necessary paperwork. You can also enlist a friend to help you.

For example, collect a year’s worth of all of your monthly bills such as electrical, gas, water, etc. and your friend can calculate your monthly average for each expense. If you have a congenial relationship with your spouse, do it together and then you have one less area to disagree about in the process.

The CIS is an important document that will be referred to during the entire divorce process. Take the time do it right.

For more information on necessary financial documents, this is an article originally printed in the ABA Section of Family Law Newsletter, April 2013.

Financial documents are at the heart of divorces. Regardless of how contentious or amicable a divorce is, the finances of the spouses will need to be separated, and financial documents are required to make the division. Whether the information sought is current or historical, unaltered documents tell the truth about the money. This truth needs to be examined in every divorce before assets, debts, and income can be divided.

While financial documents can often be easily obtained during divorce proceedings, it is much easier for the spouse with access to the documents to simply copy and/or retain the documents. This reduces the number of discovery requests and subpoenas, and eliminates the time spent waiting to receive documents. It also reduces the possible need for a forensic accountant, which is expensive but often necessary in high household income divorces.

If hard copies of documents are available in the home or office, the spouse should copy or secure the documents. If documentation is available online and the spouse has legitimate access to them, he or she should log into the online accounts and print all documents that are available. This process may be time consuming and tedious, but having immediate access to financial documents can provide a significant advantage in divorce litigation.

Which documents should the spouse try to acquire? The following list refers to both paper and digital (electronic) versions. Either is acceptable, as hard copies can be made electronic (scanning into PDF format, for example) and electronic can be printed if hard copies are preferred.

  • Bank statements, deposit tickets, canceled checks, check registers (including checking accounts, money markets, and savings accounts)

  • Brokerage statements (all accounts including those owned individually, jointly, as trustee, or as guardian)

  • Credit card statements

  • Personal income tax returns (including copies of W-2s, 1099s, K-1s, and other supporting documents and schedules)

  • Pay statements or stubs (showing current and year-to-date wages, bonuses, commissions, overtime, retirement contributions, and other pay or benefits)

  • Loan applications (for mortgages, home equity lines of credit, credit cards, auto loans, or other personal or business loans) Personal financial statements (often submitted to banks with loan applications)

  • Documentation of debts (loan agreements and receipts related to any personal loans from financial institutions, individuals, or any company)

  • Retirement plan documents and statements (records regarding pension, profit sharing, deferred compensation, or other retirement plans through an employer or business owned by the spouse)

  • Business ownership records (stock certificates, charters, operating agreements, joint venture agreements, corporate minutes, or other related documents)

  • Business income tax returns

  • Business financial statements (including profit and loss statements, balance sheets, and statements of cash flow)

  • Insurance documents (proof of coverage, declaration pages, policy documents, asset listings, appraisals, invoices or billing statements)

  • Real estate documents (tax bills, closing statements, deeds, appraisals, mortgages, leases)

  • Personal property documents (documentation for significant assets, including invoices, receipts, appraisals, titles, loan applications, registrations, photographs)

  • Wills, living wills, powers of attorney, trust documents

  • Inventory of safes and safe deposit boxes

In addition to the above items, there are many miscellaneous records that can provide value during the divorce. Some of these records may include medical records, telephone records, emails, photographs, calendars, and more. It is impossible to predict which of these will be valuable later on in the divorce proceedings, which is why it is important to secure these documents when they first become available and divorce is on the horizon.

Star Young is an entrepreneur and Fortune 500 award winning executive.  Ms.Young is a certified excellence coach and a trained facilitator of Edward Deming Continuous Improvement.  In addition, she has been a talent for CBS syndicated programming, as well as a co- founder of the Beauty Spot and author of Smart Girlfriends Guide series.