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Divorce & Separation

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE)

What is an Early Neutral Evaluation?  

Upon my advice we agree it would be helpful to ask (or instruct) a neutral person to tell you (in person/Zoom or in writing) what might happen if the court was asked to make a decision on your situation (case). It can be creatively used to give an overview of what the law is in a particular area. The neutral person is usually a senior barrister, KC, solicitor or ex Judge.

Could Early Neutral Evaluation work for you?

It’s ideal in the following circumstances:

  1. You have a legally complex case. 
  2. Your case is factually ‘different’ and doesn’t sit well with case law.
  3. I and the other lawyer interpret the law differently.
  4. The law is unsettled or open to interpretation.
  5. You are in the middle of court proceedings and your FDR hearing has been postponed (see below).
  6. You are in mediation or the collaborative process and want a 3rd party view of your case so you can continue or maybe even early on before things become polarised.

What sorts of things could you use ENE for?

  • You are creating or have created a modern family. (Modern family means anyone who isn’t in a heteronormative relationship.)
  • You aren’t married or in a civil partnership and you need to sort out your share in a property you or one of you owned. This is covered by the Trust of Land (appointment of Trustees) Act and is devilishly complicated. It’s also very prohibitively expensive to go to court about
  • You are married or in a civil partnership and one of you received an inheritance during the relationship and you can’t agree what to do now
  • Really, absolutely anything!


  • Speed - you can easily sort out an ENE to get on with considering your case
  • You receive chapter and verse what the law is at the time you ask it AND it’s applied to your case
  • It’s neutral so it’s a pretty accurate prediction of what a court might do if asked
  • It can be carried out in writing or in person
  • Choose your ENE on the basis of expertise and experience.


  • Not legally binding - you may spend money and not be very further forward
  • Voluntary - so if one of you says NO you can’t get something jointly. Otherwise, consider instructing someone yourself (although this is usually just getting Counsel’s opinion and likely to be positional)
  • Neither of you would be able to use this professional to represent you as your personal lawyer or to go to Arbitration or court to represent you

How to prepare for an ENE

Gather as much information as possible to help the Early Neutral Evaluator. They may talk to you both individually or together about your case. Be ready to be questioned a bit about things. Be as open as possible. I will help you with all the preparation.