At an Initial Case Management Conference, Courts may sometimes recommend that the parties and their attorneys go through the Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) process if they have at least one financial issue.
Confidential: Everything said in a FENE process is completely confidential and cannot be repeated, unless known otherwise outside of the process.
Exception - Mandated Reporters (every FENE evaluator is a Mandated Reporter) must report any sign of physical and/or emotional abuse of any party.
Evaluator: An evaluator is a neutral expert financial evaluator (usually a CPA, attorney or Financial Planner) whose job it is to listen to both parties' story and examine all presented evidence. They then recommend to the parties a likely outcome of the case and/or a view on how the Judge is most likely to rule on the unresolved financial issues.
Length: Three hours in length and it will take that long, if not longer. We recommend taking the day off of work; you will be exhausted after the process.
How to Prepare:
What to Bring:
Process: Most often, Evaluators review the proposed Asset Balance Sheet and monthly expenditures beforehand and question the parties regarding such before diving into the analysis.
Agreement Reached: The FENE evaluator 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.
No Agreement Reached: The FENE evaluator will let the Judge know, by written Order, that the FENE failed. The Judge will only know that it failed, he/she will not know what was said, what was recommended, or why it failed.
Payment: According to the Court Order, payment is expected at the beginning of the FENE process by Cash, cashier's check, money order, or credit card (where accepted). Checks are not accepted.