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Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) Background

ENE is also known as Custody and Parenting Time Early Neutral Evaluation (CPENE) in Anoka County and Wright County. In Hennepin County ENE it is also known as Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE).


Confidential: Everything said in an ENE process is completely confidential and cannot be repeated, unless known otherwise outside of the process.
Exception -Mandated Reporters (every ENE evaluator is a Mandated Reporter) must report any sign of physical and/or emotional abuse of any interested party.
Evaluators: One male and one female neutral 3rd party expert custody and parenting time evaluator whose job is to listen to both parties story and to recommend to the parties a view on how the Judge would rule and/or how a full blown custody and parenting time evaluation would most likely result.
Length: Three hours in length (four in Anoka County) and it will take that long, if not longer. If you can, please, take the day off of work. You will most likely be exhausted after the process.

How to Prepare:

  • Think about what you want, and what is best for your child(ren). Don't write out your thoughts, but make bullet points of important items to discuss.
  • Please eat beforehand.
  • Wear comfortable clothing attire; no need to dress business casual - this is a causal setting.

What to bring:

  • A few pictures of your child(ren)
  • Payment method - cash is best; you will receive a receipt.
  • Snack/soda/water depending on the setting.
  • Some offices may require payment for parking, so please bring cash for that as well.


1. The Petitioner goes first, the Respondent speaks second (each may take up to one hour)
2. The Petitioner rebuts , the Respondent rebuts (each up to 10 minutes)
3. The ENE evaluators take a break (10 - 15 minutes)
4. The ENE evaluators give their formal recommendation (5 - 10 minutes)
5. The parties, with legal counsel, take a break and discuss the recommendation (10 - 20 minutes)
6. All parties meet back to discuss recommendations
7. ENE evaluators switch to mediators
8. All remaining time is to try and work out a settlement agreement.

Agreement Reached: The ENE evaluators will let the Judge know by written Order which is then binding on the part but not yet legal until further reduced to writing and signed by all parties, including the Judge.

No agreement reached: The ENE evaluators will let the Judge know, by written Order, that the ENE failed. The Judge will only know that it failed, he/she will not know what was said, what was recommended, or why it failed. The most likely next step in the process is a full blown custody and parenting time evaluation which can take 4 -6 months.

Payment: According to the Court Order, payment is expected at the beginning of the ENE process by cash, cashier's check, money order, or credit card (where accepted); Checks are not accepted.

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