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In The Beginning: Early Neutral Evaluation in Divorces.

After a divorce is filed in Minnesota, the Court will hold an Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC). This is an informal meeting with the judge or referee assigned to your case and provides an opportunity for the judicial officer to learn about the issues in your matter and for you to learn about the divorce process.

At the ICMC, you will be offered the opportunity to participate in Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE). Participation in ENE is voluntary and both parties must agree to take part. The goal of ENE is to engage in settlement discussion with professional evaluators before the parties have incurred significant expenses and become entrenched in their (sometimes unrealistic) positions. The evaluators listen to both sides, share perspectives on the merits, make recommendations, and attempt to foster agreement. Attorneys are present and parties are able to discuss proposals with them.

There are two types of ENE: Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE), which focuses on financial issues, such as property division, spousal maintenance, and child support, and Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE), which concerns custody, parenting time, and other needs of the children. FENE uses a single evaluator, while SENE involves two evaluators - one male and one female. In either case, the evaluators are highly experienced and have undergone rigorous training.

In most cases, I recommend that the parties participate in one, or both, types of ENE. The costs of participation is based upon a sliding fee scale and the process generally concludes within 90 days. Figures indicate that over 75% of cases that use the ENE process reach at least a partial agreement, which saves both time and money.

To discuss your case, and the potential for Early Neutral Evaluation, contact Kruse Family Law by phone at 612-231-9865 or by email at

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The divorce journey can begin with Early Neutral Evaluation

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