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HELPING Colorado Families since 1982

Early Neutral Evaluation ("ENE") Alternative Dispute Resolution is a new approach in Colorado to help families when they find themselves affected by family legal matters including Dissolution of Marriage, Legal Separations, Common Law Marriages, Paternity and Parenting Responsibilities related to children issues. The Eighteen Judicial District Family Courts in Douglas County are developing a Pilot Project, entitled Early Neutral Assessment ("ENA"), modeled after the enormously successful ENE program developed in Minnesota.

ENA Alternative Dispute Resolution services are offered to attorneys and their clients, or parties without legal representation.

What is Unique about Early Neutral Assessment ("ENA")?

  • ENA Team is a multidiscipline approach to dispute resolution enlisting legal and mental health professionals with knowledge and experience in family law matters.

  • ENA Team is gender neutral in that the two member professional team includes both a female and male counterpart.

  • ENA Team’s focus is to assist the parties in a confidential, neutral environment in resolving their own conflicts, unique to their particular circumstances and family needs.

  • ENA Team will provide an initial assessment of the parties family circumstances as to what a formal court custody evaluation may recommend, or what a court may find as a result of contested litigation.

  • ENA Team will assist the parties in mediating their differences with the ultimate goal of a self-determination resolution of their own disputes.

  • ENA Team will make specific recommendations to assist the parties in resolving their conflicts, including efforts to overcome barriers which may be keeping the parties from reaching a final settlement.

What is involved with the Confidential Process of ENA?

  • Introductions, review of ENA contractual relationships, explanation of process, setting ground rules, identification of agreements by the parties, and answering parties ENA process questions.

  • Each party’s presentation of the family circumstances and desired resolutions.

  • Each party’s response to the other parties’ statements to the ENA Team.

  • ENA Team caucus in private to formulate initial assessments of the parties’ family circumstances including initial recommendations to the parties.

  • Each party meets with their attorney, if represented, in private to consider ENA Team’s initial assessments and recommendations.

  • ENA Team and parties joint efforts to explore and develop a self-determination resolution of the parties’ disputes.

  • Single or multiple ENA sessions available to resolve all or only specific family issues as may be appropriate for your family.

  • ENA Team written agreement drafting for Temporary or Permanent Orders, Separation Agreements, and Parenting Plans upon request.

What is the priority of conflict resolutions?

  • First Emphasis of the ENA Team will be to work on relationship issues between the parents and their children, including such matters as parenting time, allocation of parenting responsibilities, allocation of decision-making, and perhaps most importantly, addressing co-parenting skills and conduct after a divorce so that the parties effectively provide for the “Best Interest of Their Children.”

  • Second Emphasis of the ENA Team will be to work on financial issues which may be related to the children’s needs, including child support, daycare, health and life insurance, special needs of the children, and other miscellaneous financial needs of the children.

  • Third Emphasis of the ENA Team will be to work on financial issues which may be related to the parties needs, including such matters as maintenance, division of property, and allocation of debts.

  • Final Emphasis of the ENA Team will be to provide any referrals that may be appropriate for the parties.

What are the benefits of Early Neutral Assessment?

  • Confidential and neutral environment to present, explore, and develop resolutions to family conflicts.

  • Informal and early assessments of family circumstances to assist the parties understanding of their individual circumstances and alternatives available to them; and to provide the parties with guidance in finding resolutions relating to their parent-child relationships and family financial matters.

  • Self-determination of disputes rather than reliance on formal recommendations by a Child and Family Investigator, third-party witnesses and experts, and Judge’s Orders resulting from contested court hearings of family conflicts.

  • Cost effective resolutions which avoids the enormous expense of lengthy legal representation, formal Child and Family Investigations, other expert analysis, and the extensive litigation costs of time, money, effort, and emotion stress.

  • Family relationships are preserved when parents find the means to effectively co-parent after divorce; and the children’s emotional needs are respected by both of their parents.

*First Choice ENA Mediation, LLC
Mark C. Williams, Esq.  (303) 688-9280; and
Dr. Sharla Arend, Psy.D. (303) 393-1755

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*Although Mark C. Williams is a licensed Colorado Attorney, First Choice ENA Mediation, LLC is not a law firm and is limited to providing alternative dispute resolution services in conjunction with mental health professionals.