Last week, we started discussing how the legal system here in Minnesota recognizes that divorcing spouses often benefit — both financially and emotionally — from resolving matters prior to the commencement of litigation.
To that end, we discussed how a court may order divorcing spouses to participate in the financial Early Neutral Evaluation process, which involves a third party providing an unbiased evaluation of one or more financial issues in the aim of facilitating a mutually acceptable settlement and avoiding a protracted legal battle.
How is the neutral evaluator selected?
While the court can appoint a neutral evaluator for the divorcing spouses, they will also have the ability to select one from a court provided list. It’s important to understand, however, that both parties must agree on the selection of the neutral evaluator and that the neutral evaluator’s fees (set on a sliding scale) will be split 50-50.
What happens at the first meeting of the financial ENE process?
Held within seven days of the Initial Case Management Conference, the first meeting of the financial ENE process will consist of the neutral evaluator attempting to learn more about the details of the underlying disagreements either through presentations by each side’s attorneys or conversations with the divorcing spouses.
The neutral evaluator will then decide if he or she will need more information from either side of the table or third parties going forward.
How long does the financial ENE process take?
The law allocates approximately 60 days for the financial ENE process. What this means is that at some point during this timeframe, the divorcing spouses must inform the court whether an acceptable arrangement has been reached.
We’ll conclude this discussion of the financial ENE process in our next post, including an examination of what remains confidential during the financial ENE process and cannot be admitted into court.