In financial cases it isn’t unusual for Judges to provide opinions about the way in which they wish cases to resolve.  We’ve used the idea for clients who are dealing with challenges involving their children or their finances.

Having an idea about how a case could be determined can unlock it, and give families a foundation for their discussions.

How it Works

You might also hear this called a ‘neutral case assessment and opinion’ or a ‘private FDR’.  Both of which are a bit of a mouthful.  An early neutral assessment (ENA) offers you the chance to have a senior specialist lawyer give an opinion about what a Judge might order, were your the case to get as far as a court application.  This can help you to talk in a better way, and allows youto focus on what might or might not work. 

We have three in house ENA specialists, but they won’t be able to give you an opinion if they have already worked with you in a different process. In that case, we work with senior solicitors and barristers and the judiciary, who we can help you instruct.

You would agree between you exactly what you would like the specialist to give their opinion on, and you will prepare documentation that supports your case.  You can opt for your chosen professional to look at the case on the papers alone, or you can choose to ask for a meeting at which you would both make representations.  If you have a ‘hearing’ it won’t usually last for longer than 4 hours, unless the case is particularly complex.  Like arbitration, this model allows you to be in control of who you choose, what you ask them to advise on and where and how it takes place.  As with most alternatives to court, they are confidential and privileged.  It can often be organised at relatively short notice, so it can be a useful addition to our other solutions.  The advice that you receive isn’t legally binding.

You can ask for an early case assessment at any stage, but as the name suggests, it is more useful at the start.  It can be used for cases involving arrangements for children or for your finances.


Having help early on can be invaluable and in the long run, a cost effective way of sorting out separation. It can give you a solid basis for negotiation, and helps identify areas of dispute early.

Read more.

We charge £2,000 plus VAT for an ENA.  This includes

  • A preliminary meeting with you together, to identify areas you need help with, and to deal with the documents you may need to provide;
  • Reading your statements and documents (to be no longer than 350 pages in total);
  • A hearing of up to three hours;
  • A written opinion.

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T: 02392 481183

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Our team comprises solicitors, mediators, arbitrators and more; we are recognised and accredited specialists in family law and non-court resolution. We are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA number 473624), and subject to various rules for the professional bodies that we belong to. Click on the links for more information.

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Family Solutions

T: 02392 481183
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Havant, Hampshire, PO9 1AA

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