Throughout the course of your Minnesota family law proceeding, you are likely to hear quite a few acronyms used by your family law attorney and by the Court. Below is a key for some of these acronyms:
ICMC: Initial Case Management Conference. This is the first acronym you are likely to hear because it’s often the first step after the case has been filed with the court. An ICMC is a chance to meet the judicial officer assigned to your case and discuss resources that might be available to you for resolving your case without proceeding to litigation. There are no arguments made or decisions issued at an ICMC. Depending on the judge, he or she may not even wear a robe or sit on the bench. There’s no court reporter taking anything down, unless you have agreements which you would like to formalize on the record.
ENE: Early Neutral Evaluation. This is one of the resources available mentioned above that will be discussed at your ICMC. It’s “early” because it’s often right after the ICMC so before the case has really headed too far down the litigation track. It’s “neutral” because it involves someone who doesn’t know anything about your family. It’s an “evaluation” because, unlike a traditional mediation, the neutral(s) involved will give you an opinion about what they think after hearing some facts from you and the other party about your case.
FENE: Financial Early Neutral Evaluation. Typically only in Minnesota divorce cases, an ENE as described above which involves financial issues such as division of assets and liabilities and cash flow issues like spousal maintenance and child support. An FENE just involves one neutral, usually an attorney or an accountant. After providing the evaluator with information regarding your assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, the evaluator will then explain to you, based on their family court experience, what they think a likely outcome is for your case and see if they can help you and your spouse reach an agreement on the financial issues in your case.
SENE/CPENE: Social Early Neutral Evaluation/Custody and Parenting Time Early Neutral Evaluation. An SENE as described above which involves issues related to the children, included legal custody, physical custody, and parenting time schedules. In order to ensure no gender bias, this process involves two neutrals, one male and one female, typically family law attorneys, social workers, or psychologists. You will have the opportunity to tell the evaluators about the history of your relationship with the other parent, your relationship with your children, what you are asking for as an outcome in your case, and any concerns you have about the other parent. You will also have the opportunity to hear the other parent tell the evaluators the same information from their perspective. After hearing about the issues from both parties, the evaluators will confer and then give you recommendations on their opinion(s) as to likely outcomes in your case. After hearing their recommendations, they will help you and the other parent try to reach an agreement which is in your children’s best interests.
As always, if you have questions about any of the above acronyms, please call us to set up your consultation.
Make sure to check back for Part. 2 of Common Acronyms In A Family Law Case