Inadequacy of Joint Life Style for Alimony Negotiation?
One of the topic periodically discussed as “Arguments Lawyers Fail to Make” is related to the inadequacy of NJ’s official CIS form at the budget’s left hand column labeled “Joint Life Style” for the purpose of the trial of an alimony claim.
The logic goes like this; Marital Lifestyle figures for the supported spouse are likely to include the supporting spouse’s expenses that will not be paid by the supported spouse after the divorce. Normally, marital lifestyle figures play a critical role in alimony determination, but these figures are meant to include marital lifestyle of the supported spouse only.
The proposed supported spouse’s attorney questions the supported spouse, who says, “Yes, those are my expenses.” Then, the other party’s attorney should point out that the line item is, in fact, for the entire family before the separation. The supported spouse is put in a situation where he/she has to subtract from each line item, expenditures for the supporting spouse and the children. After all, why should the supported spouse receive alimony for expenditures that he/she would not and could not incur post judgment? However, is this common flaw in marital lifestyle budget presentations picked up and argued by lawyers regularly?
Technology Driven Solution
In your CIS program, section Part-D, click on “Show Individual Historical Expenditure.” Here, you can breakdown marital expenses – Expenses for the plaintiff only or for the defendant and children. You can then print a separate Lifestyle Expenditure report, which will show five columns side by side and is ready to enter as a trial exhibit, for an Early Settlement Panel or Economic Mediation. (Click here for an example sheet).
For trial preparation, have the litigant break down the marital lifestyle figures individually, so you do not count the supporting spouse’s expenses and the children’s expenses in the supported spouse’s lifestyle figures, thereby avoiding the aforementioned trap.
While we are on this topic, for the purpose of breakdown, children’s expenditures might be less critical because they are not expected to have separate expenses in each category. However, categorizing children’s expenses separately may be helpful because they will be useful for other purposes, such as quantifying extraordinary expenses for children, i.e. automobile insurance.