2019 Readers’ Choice Best Law Firm in Maple Grove

Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. is pleased to announce that we have been named 2019 Readers’ Choice Best Law Firm by the Maple Grove Magazine. We are dedicated to making a positive difference in the community and honored to receive this designation.

Established in 1981, our firm has built a loyal client base by combining small business customer service and accessibility with knowledge in many fields of law.

We offer integrity-driven legal services for businesses and individuals throughout the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro. With seventeen attorneys and five major practice areas, we are equipped to handle any complex case, from mechanic’s liens to estate planning. Our attorneys know the right questions to ask and are dedicated to actively listen to our clients’ needs and provide honest representation throughout the litigation process.

At our core, we are family-focused, principle-driven, and passionate about community outreach. Our firm participates in local charitable events and is actively involved in bar associations, steering committees, scholarship foundations, and trade organizations. Several of our attorneys have been board members on a number of the local chambers of commerce, from TwinWest to I-94. They and their families—just like our clients—live and work in Maple Grove and the surrounding areas.

At some point in life, nearly every person will need to seek an attorney’s help, whether to establish a start-up, resolve a conflict, or set up an estate plan. Henningson & Snoxell is honored to help our clients and provide for their legal needs. We are grateful for our designation as the 2019 Readers’ Choice Best Law Firm and look forward to many more years upholding this distinction by serving the Maple Grove community.

Client Spotlight

“Henningson & Snoxell represented us as we navigated the path of selling our business. It was a long and seemingly complicated process, but we were well-advised as they helped us through the many obstacles. They were well aware of the implications of various details and had the foresight in matters, so we had a successful transaction. They were very professional and knowledgeable, good people to work with. I would highly recommend them.”

– Rick and Susan Dubay

“Navigating a business start-up can often be tumultuous if you don’t have trusted advisors and clear guidance. For me, the team at Henningson & Snoxell has become one of my most trusted sources for growing the business, and I am eternally grateful to have access to a firm that truly cares about my business as well as personal future. Thank you!”

– Peter Johnson, Archway Defense

We invite you to read more testimonials or contact us to learn more.

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Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. 2019 Minnesota Super Lawyers Honorees

07.08.2019 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

2019 Minnesota Super Lawyers honorees

Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. is excited to announce the firm’s 2019 Minnesota Super Lawyers honorees, a designation reserved for only five percent of the total lawyers in the state.

The Super Lawyers honor recognizes those attorneys who have exhibited excellence in practice and continue to earn the respect of their peers by providing high quality legal services.

Published in Super Lawyers, this annual list of top attorneys originates from Bill White and Steve Kaplan’s Minnesota Law & Politics magazine. Nominees are selected based on peer evaluations, independent research, and criteria such as scholarly writings, leadership, and community engagement. The Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. 2019 Minnesota Super Lawyers include:

Steven M. Graffunder

Shareholder

Steve serves as the chair of the firm’s Real Estate Department and is a member of the Minnesota and Hennepin County bar associations. He is a Real Property Law Specialist and practices primarily in the areas of commercial and residential real estate, construction law, mechanic’s liens, and banking law. This is his sixteenth Minnesota Super Lawyers award.

Mark V. Steffenson

Shareholder

Mark concentrates his practice in business and commercial litigation and is a recipient of the AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating in the distinguished legal directory, Martindale-Hubbell®. This is his twelfth year receiving the Minnesota Super Lawyers distinction.

Jeffrey A. Berg

Shareholder

Jeff is Chair of the Family Law practice group at Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd. and is receiving the Minnesota Super Lawyers honor for the tenth time.

Craig T. Dokken

Shareholder

Craig’s practice is concentrated in the areas of Construction and Real Estate Litigation. This is his seventh time being named to Minnesota Super Lawyers, and he has also received an AV® Preeminent Peer Review Rating in Martindale-Hubbell®.

Kristin L. Kingsbury

Attorney

Kristin has previously been selected as a Rising Star and among Top Women Attorneys by Super Lawyers and this year received the honor of Minnesota Super Lawyers. She has extensive litigation experience in both state and federal courts and has successfully litigated matters in Minnesota, Rhode Island, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Kansas.

For over 35 years, Henningson & Snoxell has served individuals and businesses with effective legal counsel and representation. Our attorneys work with integrity-driven professionalism centered in strong principles, a family focus, and community dedication.

Contact us for more information.

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What Happens to Spousal Maintenance at Retirement?

05.30.2019 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Spousal Maintenance - Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

The award of permanent spousal maintenance does not mean it will be paid forever. It means until the payor’s death, the recipient’s remarriage or a substantial change in the financial circumstances that makes the original award unreasonable and unfair. The payor’s retirement can be a substantial change in the circumstances. See Minnesota Statutes 518A.39. Unless the divorce decree specifically identifies what happens at retirement, permanent spousal maintenance does not automatically end at the payor’s retirement. If the divorce decree does not specify what happens at retirement, at that time the payor can bring a motion to modify spousal maintenance and the obligation may end, be modified or remain unchanged. If the original award was permanent maintenance, it is the payor’s burden to establish the substantial change in circumstances.

In the past the usual age of retirement was 65. Except for a few professions, today there is no mandatory retirement age. If contested, when the spousal maintenance payor retires he or she has the burden to show the decision to retire was in good faith and not for the purpose of avoiding the maintenance obligation. The closer the payor is to age 65, the court is more likely to determine the decision to retire was made in good faith. However, there are circumstances when retiring before age 65 is appropriate. If the spousal maintenance recipient claims the payor is retiring in bad faith, the court will consider a number of factors:

  • The payor’s health;
  • The payor’s employment history;
  • The parties’ plans and expectations for early retirement before the divorce;
  • The employer’s policies and industry standards relating to the age of retirement;
  • The payor’s financial circumstances; and,
  • All other reasons given to retire.

The process is complicated because typically before bringing a motion, the payor needs to actually retire and the decision to retire maybe connected to whether the spousal maintenance obligation will be changed. Before deciding to retire or announcing your retirement, it is wise to consult with an attorney. If you are the maintenance recipient and receive notice of the payor’s intention to retire, it is also appropriate to promptly communicate with experienced legal counsel.

If the Court determines the payor was acting in good faith, the court looks at the parties’ incomes, assets and expenses. If both parties have post retirement income that provides for their reasonable expenses, spousal maintenance should end. However, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently decided, even at the age of retirement the maintenance recipient is not required to use the retirement assets they were awarded in the divorce decree to support themselves at retirement. Many lawyers do not understand this decision.

Minnesota case law provides the maintenance recipient does not get a “second bite of the apple”. In other words, the payor is not required to pay spousal maintenance from marital assets previously divided in the original divorce decree. However, income earned from the assets and retirement accounts awarded in the original divorce decree can be considered when evaluating the payor’s ability to pay and the recipient’s need for maintenance.

When the court evaluates the payor’s ability to pay maintenance, it considers the assets acquired by the payor after the divorce and the payor’s pre-marital assets that were not considered in the original divorce settlement. This means if the maintenance payor is financially successful after the divorce, he or she may have a more difficult argument establishing a substantial change in the circumstances that makes the original maintenance award unreasonable and unfair.

In assessing the spousal maintenance need, the court must consider all the income from the requesting spouse. The spouse seeking maintenance is not required to sell-off assets to provide for his or her needs. However, the income or return generated from the recipient’s estate will be considered. In a recent Minnesota Supreme Court case, the Court ruled that the recipient of maintenance was required to move her cash and invest in a more “income producing” investment.

Not surprisingly, the decision to retire and request a change in spousal maintenance can result in litigation. To avoid uncertainty and surprise at retirement, it would be helpful to agree what happens to spousal maintenance when the initial divorce terms are decided. However, with the emotions at the time of divorce, this negotiation can be difficult.

In the future, we expect legislative changes to the spousal maintenance statute and case law that will clarify what is considered when the payor seeks to modify spousal maintenance at retirement.

Modification of spousal maintenance is difficult, subjective and the related law is constantly changing. It also makes a difference if the original spousal maintenance award was permanent, permanent with step reductions or temporary. If you are involved in a spousal maintenance modification case, we recommend consulting with an experienced family law attorney at Henningson & Snoxell.

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Minnesota’s New Child Support Law

05.14.2019 Written by: admin

Initial-Consult_Divorce_Attorney

Minnesota’s new child support law that went into effect in August 2018 addresses basic child support, childcare support and medical support, just like the old law did. Just like the old law, the new law does not address many children’s expenses such as extracurriculars, school expenses and phones which would seem to be “shared” expenses that both parents should contribute towards their cost.

The Minnesota child support statute provides for a monthly sum to be paid from one parent to the other. The statute presumes that the children’s day-to-day living expenses will be taken care of by the parents once the monthly support obligation has been paid between the parents. As with the old law, the new child support law calculates child support such that the more parenting time or overnights a parent has, the less that parent pays to the other parent. Thus, the basic idea would be that the more parenting time a parent has, the more that parent pays the kids’ day-to-day expenses as they occur.  This isn’t always the reality as one parent often tends to buy certain items such the school supplies, coats, and signs the children up for activities

A good agreement will address these types of expenses. A mutual understanding and expectation regarding what contributions the each of the parent will make to day-to-day expenses, such as extracurriculars, clothing, school lunches, and cell phones should be outlined in your final agreements, so no one is surprised, and both parents are on the same page.

At Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd., we have experienced and compassionate family law attorneys. Kelly Eull is an attorney in the firm’s Family Law Department. If you have questions about divorce or any other family law matter, please contact our office to set up a consult.

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Divorce & ADR – What Does That Mean?

05.01.2019 Written by: Henningson & Snoxell, Ltd.

Alternative Dispute Resolution -Hennginson & Snoxell - Divorce Attory Tifanne Wolter

Minnesota Family Law (Custody and/or Divorce) cases generally require the parties to participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution or ADR. The most widely used forms of ADR are Mediation and Early Neutral Evaluation.

Mediation is a process where the parties, along with their attorneys, meet with a third-party neutral Mediator to assist with resolving their differences. Those differences can include such things as who has custody, amount of parenting time, division of property and financial support.

The Mediator’s role is to assist the parties in keeping communication flowing –focusing on the issues and brainstorming ideas for settlement. The Mediation can take place with all the parties in the same room, or by caucus – where the mediator goes back and forth between the parties in separate rooms. Mediators are neutral parties – they do not represent either side and do not provide legal advice to either party, and they do not have any decision-making authority.

Early Neutral Evaluation, ENE, is a form of Alternative Dispute Resolution. The parties are given a neutral opinion of the strengths and weaknesses of their case. The process usually starts at the beginning of a divorce or custody case. This gets the parties talking about settlement early in the process before people get entrenched in their positions. However, early neutral evaluation can be effective at any point during the case.

There are two separate types of Early Neutral Evaluations. When it relates to evaluating custody and parenting time, a Social Early Neutral Evaluation, or SENE, is conducted. The early neutral evaluation for asset division and financial support is called a Financial Early Neutral Evaluation, or FENE.

For an SENE, two evaluators, typically a male and female, are assigned to the case. A good SENE session should last at least three hours and it is possible to need a follow up session. The process begins with the evaluators explaining the confidentiality requirements, and the way the evaluation will be conducted. It is very important to tell the evaluators all the information they ask for. This needs to be complete and accurate information for them to formulate their best opinions. If information is held back, the evaluator’s recommendations may not be appropriate.

Both parties make presentations to the evaluators. The evaluators leave the room and discuss their impressions of the case. They reconvene and give their feedback and thoughts about the likely outcome of the case. At this point, you can ask the evaluators questions about their recommendations and get any necessary clarification.

Once the evaluators provide their recommendations, you will privately discuss your thoughts about what has been recommended with your attorney. At that time, you will have three options: 1) agree with the recommendations 2) agree with some of the recommendations and propose some changes, and 3) disagree completely and walk away from the discussions.

You will again reconvene with the group and discuss each parties position regarding the recommendations. This starts negotiation of the terms of a settlement agreement. You may be able to reach a full agreement on all issues. Or, there may simply be a temporary agreement or a partial agreement requiring further negotiations.

The FENE process is also evaluative, but the process is quite different. Only one evaluator is chosen. The evaluators are experienced family law attorneys and financial neutrals who have worked as expert witnesses on divorce cases.

During the FENE, everyone typically meets in the same room. The discussion will focus on determining assets and debts, the division of those assets and debts; the evaluation will also discuss issues of financial support such as child support or spousal maintenance. If the parties cannot agree on these items, the evaluator will give the parties an opinion on the likely outcome should the matter would go to court.

The evaluator’s opinions regarding the likely outcome at court help to move the settlement discussions along.  It is common for parties to be convinced that their position is the right one. The evaluator helps to show the parties that there may be shortcomings in their case and gives the parties a realistic option for settlement negotiations when they cannot agree.

Having a skilled attorney represent you during Alternative Dispute Resolution is crucial.  Henningson & Snoxell’s Family Law attorneys have the compassion and the mediation skills to bring about a timely and favorable solution for you and your children. They know how the process works and how to effectively prepare you and represent you through the process.  If you have questions about divorce or any other family matter, please contact our office to set up a consultation.

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