During Divorce and Family Law cases, there are two types of Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) processes that are used by Family Court.
Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) relates to child custody and parenting time. SENE cases in Hennepin County are handled by a Court Services team consisting of one male and one female evaluator, both of whom have specialized training as a social worker, mental health professional or in another area that provides them with proper insight regarding the best interest standard used by the Court.
The second type of ENE process is Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE). FENE cases are generally handled by one evaluator (either a lawyer or a CPA) who has a substantial understanding of financial issues involved in divorce and family law matters. Hennepin County has a roster, that is usually updated on a yearly basis, that provides names of FENE evaluators for Hennepin County Divorce cases.
The ENE process typically begins within one month after the first court appearance (also referred to as the Initial Case Management Conference or ICMC). The SENE takes place prior to the FENE in almost all Divorce cases. In some cases, if the parties are involved in the non-marital tracing of assets, the valuation of assets or with other complex financial issues, then the FENE may be put “on hold” for a time so that proper consideration is given to obtain relevant financial data prior to the first FENE session.
When the ENE process is completed, the evaluators will contact the court regarding whether a partial or full settlement was reached by the parties.
The ENE process is completely confidential (except in certain circumstances).
The SENE and FENE processes have been adopted by Family Courts in all counties in the Twin Cities metro area. Attorney & Mediator Randall A. Smith conducts court ordered SENE and FENE work and is on ENE rosters in several Twin Cities counties.
The benefit of using the ENE process is that it gives the parties a neutral evaluation of their case at the onset, in a confidential environment, and before the parties have spent considerable financial resources on the case. Most Judges are proponents of using the ENE process in Divorce and Family Law cases, and many cases are resolved (in part or in full) during the ENE phase.
Lake Harriet Law Office represents clients in Minneapolis, Edina, Bloomington, Golden Valley, Hopkins, Eden Prairie, Southwest Minneapolis, Linden Hills, Hennepin County, Ramsey County, St. Paul, Washington County, Wright County, Anoka County and Scott County.