Minnesota takes a special approach to deal with certain types of family law cases. Referred to as an Early Neutral Evaluation, this program provides a quick solution to resolve financial and custody disagreements outside of a courtroom. This evaluation is completely voluntary.
What is an Early Neutral Evaluation?
Minnesota family law defines an Early Neutral Evaluation, or ENE for short, as a non-formal way to end disputes regarding child custody, visitation and financial disagreements. This type of evaluation may be done at the recommendation of a judge. Typically they will recommend this type of evaluation after an Initial Case Management Conference.
There are two main types of ENEs that you may agree to undergo. These are called a social ENE and a financial ENE. A social ENE deals with custody and visitation issues. These are sometimes referred to as SENE. A financial ENE, referred to as a FENE, deals with solely financial issues. These include issues like division of property, spousal maintenance and child support.
What happens during an ENE?
During the initial stages of an ENE, both parties will give their side of the story to professional evaluators. This can be done in the same room or each party may be giving their story solely to the evaluators in a separate room. The evaluators will address both parties and let them know how they feel the court case will go in the event that a judge decides what happens. At this point, they work with the group to come up with agreements that both parties are okay with.
Opting to undergo an ENE can be a great way to speed up the divorce and child custody court process. These informal gatherings can allow you and the other party to come to an agreement about how these matters will be handled. While not all ENEs are successful, they’re a great place to start.