Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE)

Social Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a short-term, confidential evaluative process designed to settle issues related to custody and parenting time in a family law case. Feedback is provided to parties and their attorneys by a male/female team of evaluators. The feedback consists of opinions as to how the court would rule on the outstanding custody and parenting time issues.

Unless it is necessary to gather additional information, the ENE team provides immediate feedback about each party’s case. Settlement possibilities are discussed and areas needing further scrutiny are identified. In rare cases, the ENE team may defer feedback until they can gather additional information.

If a full or partial settlement is reached, a copy of the agreement is sent to the judicial officer. If a full agreement is not reached, a report is made to the judicial officer by the ENE team regarding partial agreements that have been reached. The report may be written or oral. The ENE team members may not be called as a witness with respect to the information obtained or the recommendations made during the ENE process.

The SENE session begins with all parties in the same room, unless the parties are separated due to domestic violence concerns. The SENE team will describe the process and remind everyone that the process is confidential.

Then, each party will have about 20-30 minutes of time to tell the SENE team important information about the case. The Petitioner always goes first. Each party will then be given about 5-10 minutes to respond. If the ENE team has any questions, they will ask you those questions. Sometimes issues are raised that require more information, such as mental health or chemical dependency issues. In these cases, the SENE team may request that a party submit to an outside evaluation and provide the evaluation to them and the other spouse. In this case, another session will be scheduled. However, most SENEs are completed in one session. Once the SENE team has gathered all of the information that they think is relevant, they will meet privately. At this time the parties and their attorneys will be placed in separate rooms. The SENE team typically meets for 10-15 minutes.

Once the ENE team has prepared a recommendation, all parties will return to one room. The ENE team will give a verbal recommendation and provide the basis for that recommendation. The remainder of the SENE session will be spent negotiating any agreements that may exist, or creating a plan to resolve unsettled issues.

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