The first step in the ENE Process proceeding is the Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC). This is the initial meeting with the judge to establish Court control of the case’s progress, provide Court intervention in the early stages, discuss the alternative dispute resolution (ADR) process, establish deadlines, discuss settlement opportunities and set future hearings if needed.
This conference is usually scheduled within 30 days of the divorce filing. Each party will receive a Data Sheet that will be filled out and submitted to the Court. The Data Sheet outlines income, expenses, assets, and debts of each party. This hearing is mandatory. At the hearing the judge will discuss ADR options such as Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE), which is discussed further below. You should consult with an attorney about participation in the ICMC.
Minnesota’s Sixth Judicial District Court (northern Minnesota) uses the Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) Process.
ENE provides the opportunity for divorcing parties to discuss with a neutral third party the issues involved in their case and provides an opportunity for them to resolve the issues outside of Court. The neutral(s) are experienced in the areas of family law and will evaluate the case and help the parties find a viable solution. The cost of an ENE will be determined by the parties’ incomes and will normally be determined at the ICMC. ENE is normally more cost effective and less time is spent in court.
There are two types of ENE, financial and social. Sometimes only one type of ENE will be required. Other times the parties will have to go through both.
Financial ENE. Normally, if there are no children involved in the proceeding, the parties will only need to participate in a Financial ENE. This will help the parties determine how assets/liabilities should be divided between the parties.
Social ENE (SENE). If there are children involved in the proceeding, the parties may choose to use the SENE process. During this process they will select a neutral evaluator who will work with them to resolve disputes arising over custody, parenting time and other issues regarding their children.
You should discuss ENE with your attorney to see if this is the best option for you.
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