For couples who are divorcing with children, the asset division is difficult, but there is no question that the most difficult part will be the custody agreement. Children are living people that you both made, you both want to see them as much as you can, and often this leads to the most vicious battles of a divorce process. At times, if you cannot agree on custody or parenting time, the courts will step in and make the decision for you. However, does some judge really know what is right for your children? Did the even listen to your opinions? It is those questions that often have parents seek out other means on agreeing to custody, namely a form of mediation known as Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE).
What is Social Early Neutral Evaluation (SENE)?
Social Early Neutral Evaluation is a form of mediation for custody issues can be used to come to an agreement during a divorce as well as a way to work out any disputes that come after the custody decision has been made. Within the SENE process, there will be two evaluators, one male and one female so both parents feel they can relate to one side. Therein, both parents will present their opinions uninterrupted by the other parent to the evaluators. In post-custody disputes, they present their side while when used in custody disputes, the parents present why their proposed custody arrangement is in their child’s best interest. After the opinions are presented, the parents are allowed to respond to each other’s opinions in front of the evaluators as well.
Afterwards, the evaluators will present their views on the dispute and offer up solutions and potential compromises to help the parents work through their custody issues. As the issues are presented, the evaluators will also give their opinion on how the courts might rule based on the arguments presented.
The Real Benefits of SENE
The evaluators in the SENE process are not judges, and this means they cannot make decisions for the parents. They are merely there to listen and help move forward the negotiation process, if possible. One of the benefits of pursuing SENE in a custody battle is the cost. By keeping your arguments out of the courtroom, both sides save money on legal and court fees, especially if they can come to a decision within this mediation.
Furthermore, the SENE process saves time and allows the parents to keep their dignity by not arguing out their most personal issues in a courtroom. All of the dirty details of a dissolving marriage can be brought up in SENE and it will stay private between your ex-spouse and the two evaluators, not written down in some court record.
However, the biggest benefit of SENE is for the children. By working out your issues and the problems you have with a custody agreement as well as heeding the advice of the evaluators, you can come to a solution that is truly in the best interest of the children. If your custody case can stay out of the courtroom, it also limits the amount of stress involved that is often passed down to your children whether you mean to or not. There is certainly no arguing among any parents that the children should be the winners of a custody case, not one parent or another.
Seeking Legal Assistance?
If you are considering SENE as an alternative to litigation, your lawyer can help put you in touch with skilled evaluators. However, no matter if the SENE mediation process succeeds or fails, you will still need your lawyer to move forward. If you are getting divorced in Minnesota and worried that the custody battle will be brutal, contact us today to see what the Law Firm of Beckman, Steen & Lungstrom can do for you.