I want an amicable divorce. At Mack & Santana Law Offices, P.C., this is something that our lawyers commonly hear from our clients. Clients recognize that a divorce will change their lives forever, so they seek out ways to make the process less stressful and less costly than going to court.
At our Twin Cities law firm, we explore alternatives to aggressive divorce litigation for our clients. This use of alternative dispute resolution methods does not mean that we are not prepared to litigate.. We understand that our clients' time and finances are important to them, and we actively seek out methods that will accomplish our clients' goals and reduce the stress and expense of prolonged litigation. We realize that extensive divorce litigation can create more financial strain on our clients than may be necessary to resolve the case; we use a broad spectrum of tools to help our clients come to agreements about their divorce.
Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)
We often work with neutral experts (professionals with expertise and specialized knowledge in subjects/areas pertinent to family law who are hired by both sides to assess the case from a neutral perspective and give his or her opinion to both parties as to what he or she thinks may happen in court in an effort to promote settlement). The professionals can be hired to work in an early neutral evaluation of the financial issues or the custody and parenting time/visitation issues in a case, and they are typically trained and selected for the neutral roster through a process supervised through the courts. The early evaluations are often referred to as Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE) or Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) in the court system (some counties refer to both processes as "ENE" and the parties identify the subject matter of the evaluation when it is selected).The goal of the early neutral evaluation is to help parties work on resolving the issues early in the litigation process to minimize the expenditure of their financial resources on lengthy litigation when (and if) the issues can be properly addressed at that stage of the divorce. The courts allow the neutral experts the discretion to direct the exchange of information in the evaluation process, but the parties can also address requests for information with the experts. The complexity of the issues in any particular case may dictate whether or not a case is appropriate for the early neutral evaluation process.
The early neutral evaluation process is a valuable tool to many divorcing parties because it allows the parties to weigh the costs of lengthy litigation versus a shorter, efficient, and more economical process that may allow settlement early in the case before more significant time and money has been spent.
When Collaborative Divorce Fails
Many clients look into collaborative divorce when determining their divorce strategy. An issue with the collaborative divorce process is that divorcing couples hire attorneys and experts to work on settlement of their case, and if they are unable to come to a full resolution the parties must release their attorneys from the representation if it needs to move to litigation. Since the parties will need to start over with new lawyers in the divorce process, this change can be financially overwhelming and psychologically devastating to some parties. Another issue to consider is that while the case is in the collaborative stage and nothing has been filed in Court, both parties have the passage time to affect the valuation date of their assets. The date of valuation for the divorce is not established (without agreement) until the case is filed. This delay in setting the valuation date can have a harsh impact on one or both parties if the case is not settled and it is later litigated. A party may find himself or herself requesting a divorce, separated and going through the collaborative process for many months before a date of valuation for splitting assets and debts is set, and this may work to be a detriment to him or her in the final resolution of the case. At Mack & Santana Law Offices, P.C., we have handled divorces for clients who have started the collaborative divorce process, but have not been able to settle the case. If you have discovered that collaborative divorce is not the right process for you, it does not mean that you have failed - it just means that it is time for a new approach. At our Twin Cities law firm, we can take an approach that fits your needs, by working in a cooperative process that allows you to work out the issues cordially but with the option of taking the issues to the court and have a trial if necessary to protect your interests and/or the interests of your child(ren).
Contact a Minnesota Alternative Divorce Attorney
Contact Mack & Santana Law Offices, P.C., by calling our Minneapolis law office at 612-200-2822 or our Prior Lake law office at 952-314-2617to speak with our Minneapolis attorneys for a cooperative or amicable process in your divorce.