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Tag Archives: Case Information Statement
Divorces often turn ugly, and the two things the couple fights about the most are children and money. Child support involves both so can be the biggest stumbling block in a settlement. New Jersey family law attorneys on both sides put a lot of effort into Case Information Statement preparation to be sure the child support determined is fair.
However it’s often not over after the first decision. Changes in either parent’s life can require a new Case Information Statement to reflect the current financial reality and a judge can rule that child support needs to be raised or lowered. Loss of income is one of the most common reasons for the noncustodial parent to request a reduction in child support payments.
In a typical job, the parent has little control over income. However, self-employed parents will sometimes attempt to manipulate the system by deliberately lowering the number of clients or projects taken, thus reducing income. The parent shows up in court claiming poverty, asks for a reduction in child support, and then takes more jobs in the future.
But what if the reduction in income is real?
This strategy is so common that family law judges view reduced self-employment skeptically. Nevertheless industries change, economies fall, and hard-working business owners find themselves unable to generate as much revenue as before. The burden of proof falls on the self-employed parent which is why it is so important for attorneys to carefully document everything that appears on the New Jersey CIS.
Family law attorneys use New Jersey matrimonial software to do more than simply complete the CIS. They can link documents proving their client’s entire industry has been in a slump. They can present multiple support scenarios to find the support situation that is not only fair to the client but in the children’s best interest–and it is easy to forget that in the end it’s about the kids and not the parents.
In theory, self-employed parents are supposed to be treated the same as traditionally-employed parents. In reality, they often aren’t. That may not be fair but it is the truth, and a family law attorney has to be prepared to prove beyond doubt that a client’s reduction in income is unintentional. Use law practice management software to gather and organize the information you will need to best represent your client’s interests.
Alimony in divorces is, in theory, fair to both parties. However the amount calculated is based on a snapshot of both parties’ financial situation. Using a Case Information Statement, NJ courts look at the incomes and assets of the spouses to determine an alimony amount. What if circumstances change?
First of all, not just any change will lead to a modification of alimony. In the past New Jersey courts have reduce alimony in cases of decreased income, retirement, illness or the payee’s cohabitation with another partner. It has to be a life change that would affect either the payor’s ability to pay or the payee’s need for support. However listing a reduced income in a New Jersey CIS is only the start of the process.
Is the change permanent? Retirement is likely to be considered permanent as would some kind of long-term disability that affects the payor’s ability to work. Is unemployment? As a rule, no, you can find another job, but if the payor can demonstrate a permanent downturn in that person’s professional industry then it could be considered a permanent change. Even the term “permanent” is a relative phrase. After all marriage is considered permanent in the eyes of the law, but there are a lot of divorce attorneys out there who know permanent doesn’t always mean forever.
Is the change involuntary? Some payors will quit their jobs or under-employ themselves in hopes of reducing alimony only to find the judge rules against them. Judges know about these attempts to deliberately manipulate the system and will not rule in favor of an alimony change just because of a reduced salary on a Case Information Statement.
Has the payor made an attempt to remedy the situation? For example an out of work spouse must show evidence of an active job search. Sitting home and collecting unemployment while watching game shows on TV is not grounds to reduce alimony.
Alimony reduction is difficult. The burden of proof lies on the paying spouse and judges tend to need very strong evidence in addition to the New Jersey CIS form to grant the reduction.
New Jersey family law attorneys need every advantage to get an alimony reduction for a client, and that means using the latest generation of NJ family law software. Contact Easy Soft to find out more about how our products not only simplify your practice but give you the best chance to help your clients get what they deserve.
New Jersey family law attorneys don’t just plug a few numbers into a form and mail it off. Firms may handle dozens of divorces at the same time and some of these cases may drag on for months. You need legal practice management software that not only helps you complete the Case Information Statement (NJ) but also helps you manage the information associated with the case. Easy Soft’s CIS software includes several useful tools found on the Case Management tab of the Case Data section.
Discovery Log – The respective counsels in a divorce case will need to exchange documents. It is important to track this information to be sure all important information has been sent and received in a timely fashion. You can verify you have received all relevant documentation before completing the Case Information Statement and can be sure to meet any discovery requests you’ve received from the other attorney. The Discovery Log isn’t just a list of forms and deadlines however. With so many documents being electronic nowadays, you can link the discovery log entry to the actual document making it easy to view as needed. Track both sent and received documents by document type, party name, document name, deadline, receipt date and more.
Calendar – Track your schedule with this easy utility. You can note appointments with clients, other attorneys, court dates or any other scheduled function. In addition to noting the event, date and time you can also specify the priority (Low, Normal or Critical) and whether or not the appointment is billable time. Set up reminders to alert you to upcoming events. Reminders could range from a notification a few minutes before an appointment to a warning of an upcoming tax deadline in a few months.
Tasks – One divorce is a collection of a thousand small tasks. Overlooking even one of these can affect the outcome of the case. Create a to-do list not just for yourself but also for subordinates. Enter the task, due date and priority. Update tasks with status and completion percentages so you can see at a glance how much remains to be done on a specific case.
Case Notes – There is so much more information in a divorce case that what appears on the New Jersey CIS form. Add free-form notes here, tagged with date and priority, to help to manage information associated with a case. These notes are internal and won’t appear on any forms or letters generated by the software.
If you use the cloud version of Easy Soft’s Case Information Statement software you have access to these tools and all the function of the product from anywhere. Download a demo to discover even more time-saving features.
Over our twenty years of business we’ve seen computer operating systems and software become friendlier to the people out there who don’t have Computer Science degrees. Unfortunately you still need some technical know how–or access to someone with know how–to install, update and maintain software. That has been a limiting factor for many legal practices who want to adopt legal practice management software.
Easy Soft’s desktop software has been designed from the ground up not to require a lot of technical knowledge. The whole point of products such as our Case Information Statement software is to allow attorneys to focus on the law and not on trivial clerical details, and not on trivial computer details. However you still need to be able to handle a few tasks like installing updates, maintaining system security and backing up your data. We understand that many of our clients find even these chores to be intimidating.
This was part of the reason we decided to release a cloud version of the New Jersey CIS form. Using the cloud version means we take over most of the technical details so you don’t have to. Your information is stored in dedicated data centers employing a team of IT professionals that ensure your software is always up to date, your data is safe from unauthorized access, and your files are regularly backed up.
To use the cloud-based Case Information Statement you log in to your online account from any web-capable device. This means you can access your information from any computer in your office or home, or even from iPads or other tablets. If your office is a mix of PCs and Macs you don’t have to worry about buying two versions of the software because the cloud version works with both.
Although our emphasis is on the cloud version, Easy Soft continues to offer full support and development of our desktop Case Information Statement NJ software. We know some of our clients prefer handling the technical side of maintaining a desktop version and we are happy to accommodate them as well.
Contact Easy Soft at 800-905-7638 to find out more about how our cloud-based products are easy even for the most non-technical lawyers to use.
Under New Jersey law, it is possible to modify a child support agreement if one party has suffered a “change in circumstances.” The filer submits a modified Case Information Statement and the court will decide if the support amount should be changed. Note that this works both ways. If a payor has a substantial increase in pay, for example, the ex could file for an increase in child support to reflect the new financial reality. The real question is: what constitutes a “change in circumstances?”
That phrase is a very broad legal term and there are hundreds of precedent cases attorneys and judges to use to decide whether a particular life event applies. In general, the event must significantly change the person’s financial situation as reflected on the NJ CIS form. The burden of proof lies with whichever party files for the change.
One common reason for a requested change in support is if the payor loses employment. However it is rare for a judge to grant a permanent change. A temporary reduction might be given to allow the parent to find another job, though that typically requires extended unemployment.
Permanent life changes such as retirement or a significant health problem that limits a person’s ability to work are more likely to result in successful support changes. If the filer can show a permanent and substantial change in income on the New Jersey CIS presented to the court, then the judge might award a change in support. Note that payors retiring before the age of 65 historically have had a much harder time getting support reductions so that should be a consideration before taking early retirement.
Another common reason to reduce support is if the payor has children with a new spouse. The argument is that the parent has obligations to all the children so the actual costs should be spread out. However some judges have ruled in these cases the parent is simply underemployed and needs to find a better job or work additional jobs to support both families.
Case Information Statement software allows family law attorneys to examine alternative scenarios, for example helping a client considering early retirement understand how that financial change may or may not change child support obligations. If a motion for a change in support is filed, it’s easy to make a few changes to the original CIS and print out a new one.
Complex cases like this are why a growing number of legal firms are turning to law practice management software. These automated tools make even convoluted property, custody and support agreements simple to calculate. Check out Easy Soft’s website for our state-specific child support products, general divorce software and other legal practice applications.
New Jersey alimony laws are written to be fair to both parties. Support formulas count assets and income in a comprehensive and unbiased manner and avoid counting any asset multiple times. When the recipient is reimbursed twice for something as part of an alimony agreement, this is called “double dipping”.
One example is the payor’s pension fund. The ex-spouse is typically entitled to a share of the pension that reflects the contribution to the marriage and therefore the payor’s employment situation, but that share can be treated in one of two ways: as property or as income.
In most cases the pension will be considered property. Lawyers use involved and tedious calculations to determine the current value of future pension payments adjusting for inflation, age of retirement, life expectancy and so on. This value is listed on the Case Information Statement with other assets and divided equitably.
The other option is to treat the pension as income in the alimony calculations on the New Jersey CIS form. It is treated like any other income and the monthly maintenance amount will be calculated accordingly. The ex receives a portion of the pension as part of the alimony settlement.
The better option for a specific couple depends on how close the payor is to retirement. A couple in their 20s will almost certainly opt for a property distribution. On the other hand if the payor is very close to retirement or has already retired, it might make more sense to list the pension as income.
When it comes to the Case Information Statement (NJ) state law says “When a share of a retirement benefit is treated as an asset for purposes of equitable distribution, the court shall not consider income generated thereafter by that share for purposes of determining alimony.” In other words, you can’t treat pensions as both property and income. If an ex has already received compensation in a lump sum then the court will not consider the pension as income for future alimony as this would be “double dipping”.
Attorneys can use Case Information Statement software to examine both scenarios for couples who are old enough to be near retirement but not so close that it’s obviously a better decision. In fact even a retired worker might find it better to pay a lump sum out of savings rather than pay alimony for years.
Multiple settlement scenarios are one of the reasons law practice management software is an essential negotiating tool in divorce settlement. Find out more about how Easy Soft products help your clients get a fair deal by downloading a demo of any of our software titles.