Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE)

Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (FENE) is a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR). It is an expedited, voluntary, and confidential evaluative process designed to settle the financial issues in a family law case. These issues may include dividing assets, dividing debts, spousal maintenance, and child support. As part of this process, the selected FENE evaluator will provide their evaluative impressions based on the facts provided before, and during, the session. FENE evaluators must complete specialized training and have in depth knowledge of divorce related financial issues.

The recommendation of the FENE evaluator is confidential and any statements or offers made during the process may not be communicated to the court. Therefore, parties are encouraged to make offers and have discussions knowing that their statements cannot be used against them later.


Financial Early Neutral Evaluation (also known as FENE) is an voluntary, confidential and expedited evaluative process designed to facilitate prompt dispute resolution of financial issues in divorce matters, such as property, debt, child support, and spousal maintenance.

There are several benefits to the use of an FENE. Through this process, both parties have the opportunity to hear a neutral opinion from an experienced professional as to each party’s likelihood of success at trial. Similarly, the FENE process helps parties focus on the issues of the case in a confidential, settlement-oriented, and non-confrontational environment. FENE can help cases resolve quickly and can save parties thousands in attorney fees and court costs.

To begin the FENE process, an experienced attorney or accountant (“the evaluator”) is assigned to the case via selection of the parties with their counsel at the Initial Case Management Conference (ICMC). Thereafter, the parties reach out to the evaluator to schedule the FENE. Sometimes, a brief telephone call is scheduled between the evaluator and the attorneys or parties (if unrepresented), to briefly discuss the case issues. The first meeting with the evaluator typically occurs 30-60 days after the ICMC and typically lasts 3-4 hours in length. During the FENE, the parties will present the important financial issues in the case to the evaluator. Depending on the complexity of the issues, the parties may meet with the evaluator for more than one session. During the FENE, the evaluator will provide immediate feedback about the parties’ case, and settlement possibilities will be explored.

Because FENE is a confidential process, the evaluator may not be called as a witness at trial if the issues do not settle. Further, the recommendations of the evaluator and any statements of settlement or compromise made in the FENE process are also confidential and may not be relayed to the court. That said, the evaluator may communicate with the court during the FENE for the limited purpose of facilitating case management, and obtaining direction from the court on how to address issues that may require further assessment.

If a full or partial settlement is reached, the evaluator will notify the court of the agreement and the parties’ counsel will be tasked with incorporating the agreements into an order for the Court. If the case does not settle through the FENE process, the evaluator will inform the court that the case did not settle, but the evaluator will not report the content of the FENE to the court. If the FENE is unsuccessful, the parties will return to the formal litigation process.

Whether you are looking for a skilled attorney to represent you in a FENE or are looking for a skilled FENE evaluator, Rogness & Field may be the right fit for you. Please contact our office for more information.