In today’s court system, the vast majority of cases are settled before the final trial. Divorces are no exception. Settling your case can provide important advantages over going to court. Settling can save you substantial amounts of money, as going all the way through a divorce final hearing means having to pay your attorney to prepare for and attend the final hearing. Settling can also provide you a higher degree of control over the outcome, as you and your spouse can craft individualized solutions that fit your family and your lifestyle. Settlement is not always a simple matter, especially where you and your spouse are entrenched in your respective positions. An Early Neutral Evaluation can help smooth the path to settlement.
During an Early Neutral Evaluation, both parties and their lawyers will sit down with two neutral evaluators. One evaluator will be female and the other male, in order to ensure neither spouse feels there has been bias on any issues due to gender. Each party will be able to discuss their concerns and positions with the evaluators. The attorneys will be present during this in order to assist their clients to effectively present their case. After both parties have had the opportunity to discuss their positions, the evaluators will leave and discuss the case privately. The evaluators will go over the parties’ requests, the issues in the case, and any evidence they may have been shown. After discussing the case, they will return and present the parties with their recommendation for how a case should be resolved. Note that the evaluators’ recommendation is not binding on the parties in any way. This means that the parties may choose to adopt some, all, or none of what the evaluators recommend. After the evaluators present their recommendations, the parties then separate and can begin to negotiate, using the recommendations of the evaluators as a starting point.
One of the main advantages of an early neutral evaluation is that you and your spouse receive the input of two people experienced in the field as to what will likely happen if you have to go to trial. Moreover, by having the evaluation completed early in the case, you can save time and money, as well as resolve parts of the case before either party becomes too dug in on certain issues.