When someone finds themselves facing a family dispute, the idea of airing out their problems in a courtroom is often an uncomfortable prospect. But these days, more and more people don’t have to.
Minnesota began utilizing Early Neutral Evaluation programs in 2004. Since then, numerous families have been able to resolve disputes while retaining control of their own narrative.
What is an Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)?
An Early Neutral Evaluations is a voluntary, private, confidential process where people receive help from experienced professionals in matters of child custody, parenting time, and financial issues. An ENE provides a space to resolve disputes outside of the courtroom. This is especially beneficial in family disputes, where being in and out of court proceedings can have a profound emotional impact on everyone involved.
How does the ENE process work?
In a divorce ENE, each spouse – and their attorney – present their case to an evaluator. The evaluator, a neutral third-party neutral who is often a family-law attorney themselves, provides insight on how a judge might view each side’s position. Their opinion is non-binding, and the parties are not obligated to accept what the evaluator has to say; however, having that insight often promotes settlement so the parties don’t have to go through a public trial.
What are the benefits of ENE?
The primary benefit of an ENE is the opportunity for parties to meet in a less adversarial context to discuss their case. In many cases, people who participate in this process can reach an agreement on their own to resolve the dispute. Challenging situations can be resolved faster, and at a lower cost, than going through the court system.
To learn more about whether an Early Neutral Evaluation or another form of alternative dispute resolution is right for you, consult with a Minnesota family law attorney.