Child support, spousal maintenance, property division, and business valuations are just some of the financial issues which might need to be settled during a divorce. Parties who are willing to participate in the FENE process choose an evaluator to provide his/her professional opinion about how the court might address their financial issues. The evaluator also helps parties reach an agreement which both parties can accept.
Parties can participate in an FENE with or without an attorney. The evaluator is a neutral and does not represent either party. While the evaluator can offer his or her opinion about how a court might rule, the evaluator may not offer legal advice to either party, even though the evaluator may be an experienced family law attorney.
It is not uncommon for parties to meet more than once for an FENE. An initial meeting usually lasts about three hours and it is possible to reach an agreement in that time. In more complicated cases though, the initial FENE may be used to determine what the issues are and to determine what documents or information is still needed before the parties can begin to divide assets and debts or before a determination of spousal maintenance can be made. Parties might need time to gather more documents and then they might meet again to actually divide assets and debts or to discuss support issues.
If parties are unable to reach an agreement on all financial issues, it is possible for parties to reach partial agreements in an FENE. Parties might come to an agreement on dividing retirement assets and property, but not on spousal maintenance. Any agreements reached in a divorce are issues that will not have to put in the judge’s hands and issues parties do have to argue. For example, if parties agree to the value of the home in an FENE, they will save themselves the cost and hassle of getting an appraisal of the home.
An FENE is an opportunity for parties to keep control of how their property will be divided rather than putting the decision in the hands of a judge. Parties can use creative options that suit their unique circumstances when they reach their own agreements. The FENE process can also be a valuable experience in assessing the strengths and weaknesses of a case and in gathering needed financial information.
Experienced Family Law Attorney Christine Callahan is also a Rule 114 neutral, Mediator, and is on the court roster of SENE and FENE evaluators in Scott and Carver counties. Whether you need an attorney who understands the process inside and out, or you need an experienced evaluator, contact us today. 952-746-2350 or firstname.lastname@example.org