What is Early Neutral Evaluation?

17 Jun 2024 | Lisa Pepper
parent and child

Table of Contents

Early Neutral Evaluation (ENE) is a form of Non-Court Dispute Resolution where the separated couple invite a neutral third party to give an opinion or indication on their case.

Early Neutral Evaluation in Family Law

In family cases, that third party is a family law solicitor or barrister, and may also be a Judge. It can apply to financial cases where there would be a Financial Dispute Resolution hearing and in children cases where there would usually be a First Hearing Dispute Resolution Hearing (‘FHDRA’) such as cases involving a parental dispute about the arrangements for their children post separation

What Are The Benefits of Early Neutral Evaluation?

The benefit of ENE is that it allows the couple to still make the important decisions arising from their separation and what compromises they are willing to make, but they get to hear, together, what their chosen ‘Judge’ thinks is the fair outcome, having heard the legal arguments from their respective legal teams and the particular circumstances of their case.

The separated couple would usually have the benefit of the evaluator over several hours and that person will have been fully briefed by their lawyers and know the case and the arguments in a very detailed way – having more time than a Court based Judge would to consider all the information.

What Are The Challenges with Early Neutral Evaluation?

The challenge of ENE is that the evaluator is giving an indication – not imposing the answer. It falls short of ending the matter if the couple still cannot find a compromise having heard the view of their evaluator. The majority of cases, however, do settle once that view has been provided.

ENE can be a bespoke service, so the evaluator can be asked to give a view on one aspect of the case, if preferred, or the entirety of the issues in dispute.

In financial cases on divorce, ENE is known as a Private Financial Dispute Resolution hearing (‘pFDR’). In children cases, ENE is known as just that.

If, however, you feel that you and your spouse need the decisions imposed on you, and you won’t be able to find a compromise even having heard from an evaluator, then you could consider Arbitration.

ENE is not considered suitable in children cases where there are allegations of domestic abuse or risk of harm, because those allegations would need to be properly considered first, and it is more likely the case will be considered by the court following Practice Direction 12J.

The benefits of these forms of NCDR, are that they are less adversarial and proceed far quicker than the court process – so that you can both move forward as a separated family in a dignified and constructive way, far more likely to be able to co-parent, and with less of the family resources spent on legal fees.

How We Can Help

Lisa Pepper is an experienced family law specialist who frequently guides her clients through the ENE process, from establishing whether ENE is right for them, and helping them choose the evaluator, to negotiating and concluding an agreement following on from the evaluators view.

To speak with Lisa or another one of our Early Neutral Evaluation solicitors, contact us by:

  • Filling in our online enquiry form; or
  • Calling us on 020 7485 8811

Share this article

Contact

Speak to us about Early Neutral Evaluation

For a free initial conversation call 020 7485 8811

Email us Send us an email and we’ll get back to you






    Related InsightsVIEW ALL

    1. two children in the woods
      11.7.2024

      Unmarried With Children and Splitting Up

      Unmarried with Children? What are your Financial Rights? Know Your Financial Rights Under Schedule One Children Act 1989 A claim under...

      Read more
    2. green house
      14.6.2024

      How Does Divorce Affect Our Mortgage?

      Can you keep a joint mortgage after divorce? From a mortgage lender’s perspective your divorce does not affect your...

      Read more
    3. path into a forest
      10.6.2024

      What is Financial Disclosure in Divorce?

      Introduction to divorce financial disclosure A divorce ends your marriage but it doesn’t end your financial ties to your...

      Read more
    4. couple sitting apart
      7.6.2024

      What is a Clean Break Order?

      A clean break order is a type of financial order that specifies how your assets will be divided when you...

      Read more
    5. Divorce
      6.6.2024

      Court reduces Wife’s award by £20 million

      The biggest “Divorce Cut” in legal history Court of Appeal judges have just made history by reducing the divorce award...

      Read more
    6. child reading the bible
      4.6.2024

      What is Parallel Parenting?

      Parallel parenting  is a child arrangement where each parent has equal rights and responsibilities for their children, but they do...

      Read more
    7. man with child
      3.6.2024

      Co-Parenting with a Narcissist

      Can You Co-Parent With a Narcissist? Co-parenting involves two divorced or separated parents working together to raise their children. This...

      Read more
    8. 31.5.2024

      Can I move with my children?

      Am I allowed to relocate with the children within England and Wales? Relocating within England and Wales, even if this...

      Read more
    9. co-parenting
      29.5.2024

      What is Co-Parenting And Is It Right for...

      There is no single approach to parenting your children after a divorce or separation. How you and your ex decide...

      Read more
    10. Marriage rings
      28.5.2024

      Settlements In Short Marriages

      A Marriage is a Marriage — Even If It’s Short and Childless When deciding who gets what in a divorce,...

      Read more
    11. parents with their child
      15.5.2024

      Can a Mother Stop a Father from Seeing...

      My ex-partner is telling me that I cannot see our children. Is this allowed? There is a common misconception that...

      Read more
    12. money
      13.5.2024

      Impact Of Extended Family Wealth On Divorce

      Can the Wealth of Extended Family Affect Your Divorce Outcomes? While there is no fundamental legal difference between a high-net-worth...

      Read more
    13. osbornes hampstead
      16.4.2024

      NCDR Rules Guide Couples Away From Court

      What is Non-Court Dispute Resolution (NCDR)? NCDR is the current buzz word in the family law world, following recent rule...

      Read more
    14. kings cross station clock
      8.4.2024

      8 Considerations for French Nationals Divorcing in England & Wales

      Introduction If you are a French national with connections to England and considering a divorce, both the French courts and...

      Read more
    15. Hampstead Hill Gardens
      21.12.2023

      Financial Remedy Orders Explained

      It is common for disagreements to arise over the finances during a divorce, even if you are on good terms...

      Read more
    16. Final Order
      18.12.2023

      What is a Final Order?

      The introduction of no-fault divorces brought about a number of changes to the divorce process in England and Wales. One...

      Read more
    17. field of flowers
      14.12.2023

      What is Parental Alienation?

      Sometimes, a child may turn against one of their parents due to the other parent’s manipulation or influence. This...

      Read more
    18. divorced man with empty wallet
      4.12.2023

      My spouse is going bankrupt. Will it affect...

      Divorce and Bankruptcy In 2022, more than 1 in 10 businesses reported a moderate-to-severe risk of insolvency. More than one in five (22%) of...

      Read more
    19. spousal maintenance
      28.11.2023

      What is Spousal Maintenance?

      Spousal Maintenance Spousal maintenance is a legal obligation to provide financial support to a former spouse after the marriage or...

      Read more
    20. most common reasons why couples get divorced
      25.11.2023

      The 6 Most Common Reasons Why Couples Get Divorced

      What are the most common reasons for divorce? Following the UK’s transition to a no-fault divorce system, couples no...

      Read more
    21. signing contract
      30.10.2023

      What is a Conditional Order?

      The introduction of no-fault divorces in England and Wales removed the need to assign blame for the breakdown of a...

      Read more
    22. man signing paperwork
      29.10.2023

      What is a consent order?

      Most divorcing couples agree on how their finances will be divided without going to court. A consent order is what...

      Read more
    23. child maintenance
      16.8.2023

      Child Maintenance for High Earners

      How much should be paid? When separating or divorcing parents cannot agree the amount of child maintenance to be paid, (...

      Read more
    24. 25.7.2023

      Parental Conduct and Child Arrangements

      The Role of Family Dynamics in Child Arrangement Cases In proceedings involving children, the parents should consider the impact their...

      Read more

    VIEW ALL

    • Lisa Pepper – one of the best mediators around, whose very reasonable rates don’t reflect her excellent client base

      Legal 500 2024

    • Lisa Pepper is a great go-to solicitor for anyone wanting quick and appropriate advice

      Legal 500 2024

    • Lisa Pepper at Osbornes is hugely approachable. She is calm, clients always praise her. Underneath her calm and approachable exterior is an excellent legal brain

      Legal 500 2024

    • I am confident that Lisa will do her utmost to try and settle matters so that both parties walk away feeling satisfied that they have managed to reach a fair outcome with the assistance of a professional mediator.

      Legal 500 2024

    • Lisa Pepper is robust, competent and knowledgeable and is always keen to try and help parties settle without intervention of the court.

      Legal 500 2024

    • Lisa Pepper is an outstanding mediator. She gets results in very difficult cases. She works extremely hard to get a good outcome for clients who mediate with her

      Legal 500 2024

    • Lisa Pepper- she has a great combination of skills. She is empathetic, approachable and calm, and has good legal judgment. She inspires confidence and trust

      Legal 500 2024

    • "Lauren is hugely energetic and always pleasant to deal with."

      Chambers UK 2023

    • "Lauren brings a great degree of humanity and warmth to her cases, as well as a great deal of knowledge in international abduction."

      Chambers UK 2023

    • "Lauren is a very experienced children lawyer who is astute as to what the issues are."

      Chambers UK 2023

    • "Lisa Pepper is good at making herself available to clients and has a real focus on finding pragmatic solutions."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "Lisa Pepper is a complete all rounder. Her mediation skills are second to none. She is kind and compassionate and knows the law inside out!."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "Lisa Pepper is ‘compassionate, supportive and committed to hear clients, with a very warm manner."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "Lisa Pepper is fantastic. She goes the extra mile for her clients and is a superb mediator."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "Osbornes has a hugely experienced mediation team with Andrew Watson, Bridget Thompson and Lisa Pepper who are able to offer financial and children mediation for a range of cases including those that are highly complex involving challenging clients."

      Legal 500 2023

    • "Lisa Pepper is fantastic with people and generates calm in her meetings to help clients give of their best."

      Legal 500 2023

    • I can’t think of anyone who would handle a mediation better than Lisa.

      Chambers HNW 2022

    • Lisa Pepper is extremely hard-working and adored by her clients. She is a very empathetic and approachable lawyer.

      Chambers HNW 2O22

    • "Lisa Pepper was recommended to me as non-nonsense and able to help me with a difficult and confrontational divorce. She more than lived up to that – she was practical, collected and always available with a clear opinion and suggestions of how to move forwards. She also was open and helpful about costs and how to mitigate them"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is an outstanding mediator. She is very skilled and has an empathetic and professional approach which is comforting for clients. She never imposes her own view but is even handed and provides helpful guidance to clients so that they can make empowered decisions"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper has built up a very impressive mediation practice. She is very engaging and easy to relate to. She embodies mediation in the sense that she approaches her case in a very non-judgmental fashion and can quickly gain the confidence of those with whom she is mediating"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is a brilliant mediator who produces results. She is effective at resolving matters without the need for the parties to engage in expensive and protracted litigation"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "Lisa Pepper is a fantastic mediator. She is fair, robust when she needs to be, and finds a way of facilitating agreements in the hardest of cases. Her guidance is spot on. She has an approachable and constructive mediation style"

      Legal 500 2021

    • "She has impressed me as someone who fights my corner but also understands the importance of resolving issues without unnecessary escalation. She is calm and reassuring."

    • "Her mediation practice is exceptional; she is also a great solicitor and has a breadth of skill which is really useful."

      Chambers UK 2021

    • Lisa Pepper is extremely approachable and this shines through in the outcomes she achieves from mediation. She makes clients feel at ease, which enables them to feel empowered to resolve matters amicably and find a creative outcome which many mediators may have overlooked.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper is building a very strong mediation practice at very competitive rates and is able to build a rapport quickly with almost anyone.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper loves her work and has a very sensible head on her. That means her practice is thriving and rightly so.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper is very thorough in her preparation and has super personal skills to put parties in mediation at ease

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper – good litigator, very friendly and approachable but tough, “straight bat” with the opposition. Can steer a client deftly to settle when he should.

      Legal 500 2020 - Lisa Pepper

    • Lisa Pepper gave me clear, level-headed and sensible advice during her handling of my divorce, and she demonstrated excellent understanding of the relevant law. She was on my side but fair and pragmatic, and her advice was always given with an eye to what was both equitable and achievable, and in line with the collaborative approach I’d wanted.

      Client Review

    • Lisa Pepper is particularly recognised for her role as a mediator in complex cross-border disputes. Her practice also includes handling prenuptial agreements and issues arising from the dissolution of civil partnerships.

      Chambers UK

    • "Lisa Pepper is "caring and considerate of the issues behind a matter, and will speak directly if she feels clients need that advice."

      Chambers UK

    • "The very personable and client-focused Lisa Pepper."

      The Legal 500

    • "Lisa Pepper somehow manages to get parties to settle on matters where there isn’t much hope to start out with."

      The Legal 500

    • "Lisa can handle the large and complicated cases but takes equal care with the smaller cases. She is a highly skilled mediator who is a consummate professional."

      The Legal 500

    • Lisa Pepper is a skilled collaborative lawyer. Her instinct is always to resolve matters without compromising her clients’ interests.

      Legal 500

    • Lisa Pepper is always looking for a solution and has a very sympathetic approach to clients. She is highly regarded for her collaborative law practice.

      Chambers UK

    • Lisa Pepper deals with separation proceedings and leave to remove cases. Sources describe her as "a great person to work with: constructive, helpful and always infectiously happy.

      Chambers UK

    Accreditations

    • Times best law firm 2024
    • Spears 500 logo
    • Resolution-Collaborative-logo
    • resolution logo
    • Resolution-mediator-logo
    • legal 500 leading firm
    • chambers logo