If there are disputed financial issues involved in your case, so we would encourage you to participate in a process called a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation. That’s FENE is the acronym. And FENE is a process where, through the court we receive a referral to meet with a neutral expert in the area of not only divorce and family law, but also finance.
The experts on this roster include a lot of very qualified, experienced CPAs, as well as a lot of attorneys with gray hair who’ve been doing this for quite a while. And what we do is sit down with that person and share all of the financial information involving your marital estate.
We talk about assets, we talk about debts. We’ll also talk about any non-marital claims and how to value those things. And we’ll also talk about cashflow, trying to figure out what each party needs in terms of a budget going forward, what your incomes are, or your potential incomes, and use that in conjunction with the tax code and other processes to figure out what a reasonable resolution would be in terms of the financial issues.
Now the opinion that is given by this Early Neutral Evaluator is nonbinding, and it’s completely confidential, and it’s for that reason that the program works very well. About 80% of the time cases get resolved. We don’t have to abide by anything that this evaluator tells us, and the court will never know what the evaluator’s recommendation was.
But because of the fact that we hear from this detached expert about a range of likely outcomes, it gives the parties a real starting point for negotiation, and usually serves as kind of an eye-opening experience for both sides to figure out what the strengths and weaknesses are of their case.
So, if we mediate with that evaluator, and we reach an agreement, the evaluator will memorialize that, put together a memo, send that memo to the court, and then the agreement that we reach is incorporated into the final judgment and decree.