Early Neutral Evaluations

Offering Perspective and Insight at the Beginning of Your Case

Minnesota family courts actively promote early resolution of family law cases. After you file your family law case with the court, in most Twin Cities counties, you will find yourself scheduled for an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC). At that ICMC, a judge will discuss with the parties and attorneys a plan to develop and resolve your case.

You may be offered the opportunity to participate in Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) or Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE). SENE addresses custody and parenting issues. FENE addresses the financial aspects of a divorce including property division, child support, and spousal maintenance.

Both SENE and FENE occur before either side has brought any motions or used formal court rules to obtain information from the other side (called discovery). Most often documents are exchanged informally in order for the FENE to be effective.  The neutral will meet with the parties and their attorneys, listen to the facts, perspectives and proposed solutions of each side, and give an opinion as to what the neutral believes would be the most likely outcome if the case were tried on the facts presented to the neutral.

After the neutral present their opinion, the parties and their attorneys have a chance to discuss settlement. This facilitative phase of SENE or FENE looks somewhat like a mediation. The parties may be in the same room together. They may be in separate rooms. It is the job of the evaluator at this point to assist the parties in reaching agreement.

Attorney Kathleen E. Rusler O’Connor assesses is both a provider of Neutral SENE and FENE services and also represents clients in the Early Neutral process.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation

To arrange a no-cost, no-obligation initial consultation about early neutral evaluations or any other Minnesota family law concern, call our Burnsville law firm 952.529.1961. You can also arrange a meeting via the online contact form.