M. Sue Wilson, Managing Partner
Legal Assistant: Sandy Denker
One of Minnesota’s most respected family lawyers, Managing Partner M. Sue Wilson has practiced family law for more than 37 years, and has represented or supervised the cases of nearly 7,000 clients.
Born in Kansas City, Missouri, Wilson graduated summa cum laude and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa at the University of Kansas before attending Stanford University Law School. She began practicing in 1975.
Ms. Wilson is a strong advocate for mediation and mediates over 99% of her cases. For those cases that cannot be resolved in mediation or other dispute resolution options, she and her team provide high quality litigation services. She has served as lead attorney in several hundred trials over the years.
With a great deal of experience in complex marital estates, spousal maintenance, difficult custody cases, child support modifications and appellate practice, Ms. Wilson has argued more than 70 cases before the Minnesota Court of Appeals.
M. Sue Wilson was the 1991 recipient of the Lambda Legal Defense Fund Liberty Award and has served as President of the Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. She enjoys the highest possible rating from Martindale-Hubbell, and has been recognized annually as a “Super Lawyer ” since 1998. Ms. Wilson has also served as supervising attorney for the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board.
- Family Law
- Complex Marital Estates
- Child Support
- Spousal Maintenance
- Property Valuations
- Appellate Practice
- 1975 Minnesota State Bar
- US District Court, District of Minnesota; 1986 United States Supreme Court
- Stanford University Law School, Palo Alto, California, 1974, J.D.
Honors: Successful Completion of Law and Psychiatry Program (a joint program between Stanford Law School and Stanford Medical School)
- University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, 1971, B.A.
Honors: Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa
Professional Memberships/Academic Honors/Appointments:
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- Hennepin County Bar Association
- Minnesota Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (President 1987-88) International Seminar on Family Law, Barbados, West Indies (Chairperson 1989)
- Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, Supervising Attorney, 1991-present
- Winner, 1992 Dan J. Bradley Human Rights Award
- Winner, 1991 Lambda Legal Defense Fund Liberty Award
- Regularly selected as a Leading Minnesota Family Law Attorney
- Consistently selected as a Minnesota "Super Lawyer®"
- Selected as one of the "Top 100 Women Super Lawyers®" in 2005, 2006
- Selected for the highest possible rating for attorneys by Martindale-Hubbell
- Appointed as a financial early neutral evaluator by the Hennepin County 4th Judicial District Family Court Division, 2007
- Family Law Lecturer, Family Law Institute and other seminars
- Various other speaking engagements – topics include Valuation of Closely Held Businesses, Spousal Maintenance, Trial Preparation, and Re-Opening of Decrees
- Volunteer team member for many "Four-Fold Way" Seminars with Angeles Arrien, Ph.D. in the Twin Cities for the last several years
Situation: A female client came to me with her dissolution in the middle stages. She changed attorneys and hired me, partly because she believed her husband's business had been undervalued.
Approach: I reviewed the file and began a course of conduct to insist that we receive up-dated information on the business, arguing that the valuation was out-dated. I had to go up against a judicial officer who tried to limit my ability to get information, and I fought tooth and nail to get current data.
Solution: I was eventually able to get current information. During the time this was going on, the business sold for several million dollars, eight times the value that the neutral evaluator had placed on it.
Result: The client is now a stay-at-home mom and a multi-millionaire.
Situation: A client came to me after losing custody of her three children, ages 2 through 6. She had been a stay-at-home mother, who had been physically abused during her marriage. The trial court had awarded custody to the father because the court felt that my client had "not forgiven" the father for the abuse, and therefore would not encourage contact with the children. The case had already been to the Court of Appeals, and the trial court's decision was affirmed.
Approach: I first asked the Supreme Court to review the decision. They declined. Then, I decided that we would simply have to start over. We waited a few months, then demanded and eventually obtained, the right to have a new custody evaluation. In the face of a possible trial, the ex-husband agreed to a fifty-fifty division of time. On one visit, he physically assaulted the youngest child for not eating all of his vegetables. I sought an immediate Order for Protection on behalf of all three children.
Solution: The Family Court granted the Order for Protection and sole custody was placed with the mother. The father was allowed only supervised visits at a parenting center until he completed therapy.
Result: The father never went to therapy, and now, several years later, the mother still has sole custody. The father sees the children at a Safety Center only.
Situation: A father came to me and told me he had a very young (one-year-old) son with a woman he had never married. He described the mother to me as very unstable. He was concerned about his son's well-being in the mother's care.
Approach: I started an immediate paternity action and got the father adjudicated as the child's father. We then began a custody case. I sought and obtained the mother's mental health records and was able to determine that she had an extensive mental health history including hospitalizations for suicide attempts. I insisted and succeeded on having the Court appoint a neutral Ph.D. psychologist to do a thorough evaluation, including psychological testing of both parties, and a review of all of the mental health records.
Solution: After receiving the report, the case was set for trial. We were unwilling to settle for anything less than the recommendations of the expert, which were that Dad would get primary custody.
Result: On the day of trial, the mother agreed to the recommendations of the neutral expert. The child has lived with the father (who has re-married and had two more sons) for several years, and the custody issue has not returned to court.
Situation: A woman came to me for representation in a dissolution. Her children were grown, and she and her husband owned a great deal of land in an area just adjacent to the Metro area. He had offered her a relatively small sum of money for her interest in the properties.
Approach: I immediately began a process to have all of the real estate appraised. We worked carefully to pick a company qualified to do these extensive appraisals. We hired an accounting expert to work with us, and obtained the services of the best mediator I know to help us resolve issues such as the choice of an appraisal company. Because there were millions of dollars at stake, I wanted to be sure that the appraisals were done fairly. So, for each of the twenty or so parcels of land that were appraised, an attorney from my office accompanied the appraiser. The husband attended each appraisal and appeared to be trying to "talk down" the value of the properties.
Solution: The final numbers came back in the $60 million range. My client's one-half would be $30 million, but if the properties were sold, we estimated she would receive substantially less because of the income taxes on the sales. Also, the values of many of the pieces were tentative pending various zoning and other issues.
Result: The case went right up to trial. We turned down an offer for $16 million, and were able to obtain $20 million which was transferred by wire to her account at a brokerage house approximately three months later. All $20 million was tax free to her. She was extremely happy with the result, considering that the initial offer before she hired me was a tiny fraction of what she received.