Early Neutral Evaluation has two components:
- Social Early Neutral Evaluation, also known as SENE: dealing with custody and parenting time issues.
- Financial Early Neutral Evaluation, also referred to as FENE: addressing all financial issues in a divorce.
The Early Neutral Evaluation process is completely voluntary and confidential. If both spouses agree to utilize the process and the Court determines that the process may be helpful in achieving a settlement, the Court orders both parties and their respective counsel to attend the Early Neutral Evaluation Process.
After both parties and or their respective counsel have presented their case, the Evaluator “evaluates” the case and in essence, informs the parties of how a Judge may view and/or decide their respective positions. Neither party is obligated to accept the Evaluator’s opinion; however, in many instances, the Evaluator’s opinion paves the way for the parties to settle the case.
A social early neutral evaluation is where the Court can order both parties to engage in a “snapshot” evaluation regarding custody and access schedule issues. In such a case, the parties meet with two evaluators (one male and one female) and the evaluators provide a snapshot view of their analysis after hearing from both parties and their respective attorneys.
This is not a binding process and the parties do not have to agree to the recommendations of the social early neutral evaluators. However, if the parties do reach an agreement, either on a temporary basis or on a permanent basis, the Court will typically accept this agreement. If the parties do not reach an agreement, whatever is said in the meeting is confidential and cannot be presented to the Judge.
Financial early neutral evaluation is a process whereby the Court will either appoint or the parties will agree to use a neutral third party who analyzes the financial issues and makes recommendations relative to the marital estate of the parties. This is a non-binding and voluntary process.
If the parties reach an agreement, it can be incorporated into a permanent Order or a Divorce Decree. If the parties do not reach an agreement, the financial early neutral evaluation process remains confidential and neither the evaluator nor the parties can testify as to what was said during these discussions.
The challenges posed by divorce are best faced with an experienced attorney by your side. If you are interested to learn more about Early Neutral Evaluations and what they can mean for your divorce, please reach out today for your free consultation. You can call our office at (651) 647-0087 or contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.