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How Do Early Neutral Evaluations (ENEs) Work in Minnesota?

An Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a process many courts use to resolve issues like child custody, parenting time and other disagreements, away from a formal court setting. This is a fully voluntary process into which both parties must enter willingly.

Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions we receive about ENEs in Minnesota, along with some quick answers:

Q: Why would a person choose to decline an ENE?

It’s common for people to decline an ENE if they have been abused, if they are afraid of the other party, if there are any questions about the other party’s honesty or if one party has mental health issues. Additionally, some parties may prefer another form of Alternative Dispute Resolution, such as mediation to attempt to resolve the issues.

Q: What happens at an ENE?

Both parties tell their side of the story in front of the evaluators. The evaluators may ask questions after each party is done speaking. Neither party may interrupt the other.

After this initial stage, the evaluators meet alone for a short time, and then come back and provide their opinion about what will happen if the case goes in front of a judge. This allows both sides to have a frank conversation about possible ways they can reach an agreement before litigation. Once the session is over, the evaluators prepare a report that outlines any agreements you made.

Q: Are courts involved at all with ENEs?

Courts will know about the agreements you made at the ENE, but all other information regarding what happened at the session is kept private. The court will not be told about any conversations or opinions expressed during the ENE.

Q: How expensive are ENEs?

One of the main benefits of an ENE is that it costs significantly less than taking a case to court. In addition, there is a sliding fee scale to help with lower-income participants.

For further information and guidance on Early Neutral Evaluations, speak with an experienced Minnesota divorce lawyer.

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