Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)
Early neutral evaluation (ENE) is a confidential alternative dispute resolution technique designed for faster settlement of cases. ENE is for divorcing parents and never-married parents who are involved in a court case because they disagree on custody, visitation/access or parenting plans for their minor children. ENE moves families through the court process as quickly, fairly and inexpensively as possible. It also cuts court costs by reducing number of expensive evaluations and reduces hostilities between the parties. It has also been shown to improve relationships with attorneys and parents. There are two types of ENE based on whether the parties dispute financial support, or custody terms, or both.
What is Early Neutral Evaluation or ENE?
This program connects divorcing parents with judges and neutral evaluators early in the court process to provide the opportunity to resolve issues surrounding their dissolution. Parties can choose to participate in a Financial ENE (“FENE”) to resolve their financial disputes, a custody and parenting time Social ENE or (“SENE”) to resolve their disputes regarding their children, or both.
What are the benefits of ENE?
Statistics show that parties who participate in ENE have many benefits:
·Focus is kept on the children if children are involved
·Working through issues they are more satisfied with the final decision
·Parties will spend less time in court
·Parties spend less money on their dissolution
·Dramatically reduces the amount of time to complete the dissolution
How does the process work?
When papers are filed with the court, the parties (or their attorneys) will receive a notice to attend an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC) where the prices of ENE will be discussed to see if the parties wish to proceed. This conference will be set about 4 weeks from the case being opened with the court.
What happens at the ICMC?
The parties will hear options about different ways their divorce can proceed, either through the traditional litigation and trials or through ENE. If the parties choose to use the ENE process they will select neutrals to help them resolve the issues in their dissolution. If the parties choose to litigate the case will be set on for a pre-trial, and additional parenting classes (if the case involves children) and mediation may be required.
What do I need to bring to the ICMC?
You will receive a form from the court with information to bring to the first meeting. This will assist the judge and the parties in determining if ENE is appropriate for your case. It will also allow the court to determine what issues the party may need to work through and what the cost will be.
Who are the Neutrals/Evaluators?
For cases involving custody or parenting matters, the parties may choose from a list of neutrals who are either a male-female team or a single evaluator. The neutrals are experienced in family court. For cases involving financial issues, the neutrals are experienced family law attorneys or accountants. The neutrals will evaluate the case and encourage parties to find common ground.
What is the cost?
Evaluators or the Evaluator team for SENE will be paid a flat fee of $800.00 ($400.00 per party) for up to 4 hours of time. Evaluators for FENE will be paid a flat fee of $600.00 for up to 3 hours of time. ($300.00 per party). These fees are subject to judicial discretion.
Do I need an attorney?
You are not required to have an attorney for the ENE process. As with any legal situation you may want to consult with an attorney for legal advice. Please note: the court staff is limited to helping with procedures and cannot give you legal advice.Where can I find additional information regarding ENE?
The following additional information is available online under Minnesota Judicial Branch ENE
- ENE overview
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
- County Information
- Master Training List
- Statewide Provider InformationWhere can I find names and contact information for neutrals/evaluators in Sibley and McLeod Counties?
A list of neutrals/evaluators in Sibley and McLeod Counties can be found under Printable Roster: for McLeod/Sibley Counties.