Success Stories

Valuation & Litigation Support

Valuing a Business in a Contentious Divorce

Kasting, Kauffman & Mersen, PC
Dennis Munson, Shareholder
“Tom is a complete expert at what he does and has established credibility with the courts. He testifies well. He can explain complicated financial issues in layman’s terms, and not all experts can do that. That’s hugely important in cases like these.”
Valuation and Litigation Support

CLIENT PROFILE

Kasting, Kauffman & Mersen, PC is a general practice law firm in Bozeman, Montana founded in 1998. The firm focuses on providing general civil litigation, business and family law services throughout Montana and strives to develop long-lasting relationships with the individuals and businesses they represent.

THE SITUATION

Attorney Dennis Munson was representing a Montana woman going through a divorce. The proceedings were contentious and had amounted to nine years of delays. One key item of dispute: the value of the manufacturing business her husband had established in the mid-90s. She’d been active in the business for many years but had been forced out when the marriage started to decline.

Her husband didn’t want to sell the business, but he would have to pay out half the value in a divorce settlement. Therefore, it was in his best interest to present a low valuation to the court.

THE STRATEGY

Dennis called on Wipfli partner Tom Copley to provide valuation and litigation support services. Tom did a site visit to the manufacturing company and worked with its accountant to get the financials and other business background he needed.

To determine the value, Tom used a market approach and a discounted cash flow (DCF) income approach. Under the DCF approach, the value of a company is determined by discounting its future cash flows to current value, based on the perceived risk of investing. To determine the DCF, he applied the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), a common method accepted in the courts.

An expert for the opposing party used the build-up approach to determine DCF and included marketability discounts on the business.

The Wipfli analysis valued the business at $2.1 million, while the opposing expert placed the value at approximately $1.1 million. Both experts testified in court to defend their methodology.

WHAT WERE THE RESULTS?

Per court records, the Wipfli analysis was deemed “more credible than that of the other expert.” The business value was ruled to be $2.1 million, the full amount of the Wipfli determination. The client’s spouse is still running the business and is now making progress payments on the value owed.

Relationship Executive(s)

Thomas E. Copley, CPA, CVA , Partner