I previously posted in Minnesota Pleased with Early Results in Pilot Program to Resolve Custody Issues Amicably Outside Court about a pilot program in Minnesota using Early Neutral Evaluation.
The program is still going strong, and has expanded to other counties in Minnesota and to divorce cases with disputes over more varied issues, including financial disputes.
In this variation on mediation, both parties meet with two different evaluators, who each offer their own opinion as to the outcome on that issue if taken to court.
The program still boasts a settlement rate of between seventy and even eighty percent. After an investment of just six to fourteen hours of time.
The program’s proponents concede that early neutral evaluation is not suitable in cases where there is a history of domestic violence or other abuse.
The statistics on early neutral evaluation are certainly promising.
Some other metrics of the program’s success are whether participants feel satisfied with the outcome afterwards.
Unfortunately, a significant number of participants in ordinary pro se (without lawyers) mediation don’t totally understand that they aren’t required to reach agreement or to “give in” to the proposal that the mediator (here, evaluator) seems to be directing them toward.
This can lead to “settlements” that are, in essence, coerced and don’t keep the peace for long.