Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a confidential process that helps parties reach settlements in divorce and custody matters. Parties who agree will be referred to ENE by the judge at the Initial Case Management Conference.
Who may Participate in ENE?
- Divorcing parents;
- Never married parents;
- Parties who are filing for divorce or custody;
- Parties who already have a divorce or custody decree but have a dispute;
- Parties who are not represented by attorneys;
- Parties with attorneys. Attorneys must also agree to use ENE.
How soon can an ENE be scheduled?
ENE can usually be scheduled within 7-14 days of the Initial Case Management Conference.
Who Conducts the ENE?
ENE sessions are conducted by a male- female team of two neutrals. Neutrals must be experienced in divorce related matters and have completed specific ENE training. Click for more detailed information regarding neutral training and qualifications.
How much does an ENE cost?
Neutrals are private practitioners who set their own fees. In the Fifth Judicial District, the typical fee for ENE is $300 per party. ENE fees are due at the time of the ENE. Some ENE may accept a sliding fee scale.
How long does an ENE take?
A typical ENE session takes 3 - 5 hours.
What are the potential benefits of ENE?
Family Court disputes can be lengthy and expensive. Parties who are able to reach an agreement early in the process may save legal fees and other costs such as custody evaluations.
ENE provides the parties a chance to settle their dispute quickly, allowing the family to begin the process of moving forward.
ENE benefits children by helping their parents quickly resolve their conflict. When parents are in conflict over custody or parenting time, children suffer emotionally. The sooner contested court cases are completed, the sooner children can begin to regain a sense of stability in their lives.