If parties in a St. Paul divorce disagree about financial issues, the Judge may encourage the parties to participate in a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE). Court officers recommend FENE because it results in settlement in about 80% of the cases referred and because using ENE satisfies the Minnesota requirement that parties utilize a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) before being granted a trial. Parties in a St. Paul divorce who reach an early settlement save financial resources that are better spent elsewhere.
If parties agree to participate in FENE, they must select an evaluator who is then appointed by court order. Once the Evaluator is appointed, the FENE needs to be completed within 60 days. Prior to the first meeting, the evaluator will request financial documentation and position statements from each side in order to understand the scope of the marital estate and the issues to be resolved.
During FENE, each party presents his/her preferred outcomes and has the opportunity to provide relevant background information and the evaluator asks clarifying questions. After obtaining the necessary information, the evaluator provides a detailed assessment of the case including likely outcomes if the case went to trial. After parties and counsel ask questions and confer, the parties may choose to enter into an agreement which can be finessed with the assistance of the evaluator. If no agreement is reached, the FENE provider notifies the court and the court process resumes.
One of benefits of FENE is that the process is confidential, which allows the parties to more comfortably discuss the sometimes sensitive issues relating to a financial settlement. In most cases, divorcing parties in St. Paul resolve the financial issues without further litigation and trial. Weighed against the costs of litigation and the time required to schedule court appearances, choosing financial early neutral evaluation is a recommended best practice to settle financial issues in a divorce.