34. Kevin Costner’s Messy Divorce (John Dutton would NEVER!)


Tell Me More, a deep dive on Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner’s messy divorce.

Our Sources:

Who is Kevin Costner???

You might know him as John Dutton, the patriarch of the Dutton family in Yellowstone… but if you grew up in the 90s with a horny mom, you probably know him from movies like Field of Dreams, Robin Hood, and Dances with Wolves. 

Kevin Michael Costner is an American actor, producer, film director, and musician. He has received two Academy Awards, three Golden Globe Awards, a Primetime Emmy Award, and two Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Costner was born on January 18, 1955, in Lynwood, California, and grew up in Compton, California. He is the youngest of three boys, the second of whom died at birth. His mom, Sharon Rae Costner was a welfare worker, and his dad, William Costner, was an electrician and a utilities executive.

He graduated HS from Villa Park High School in 1973. He earned a BA from California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) in 1978. Costner became interested in acting and dancing while in his last year of college

In 1978, Costner also married his first wife, Cindy Silva. During their marriage, they had two daughters born in 1984 and 1986, and a son born in 1988. The couple divorced in 1994 after 16 years of marriage. And, we’ll circle back to his dating history and marriages in a bit… but first, let’s get back to acting:

In 1978, while on an airplane returning from his honeymoon in Puerto Vallarta, Costner had a chance encounter with actor Richard Burton. At that time, Costner was uncertain about whether he should become an actor, and he approached Burton to ask his advice. Costner has said that Burton encouraged him to pursue acting. Costner has also stated that he asked Burton whether it was possible to be an actor without experiencing turmoil in one’s private life; according to Costner, Burton replied that he thought it was possible. Costner credits Burton with inspiring him to become an actor.

So, he starts taking acting classes five nights a week while working a marketing job to support his family. 

Costner made his film debut in Sizzle Beach, U.S.A. (1981). His breakout role came in 1985 in Silverado. 

He had a string of hits in the late 80s and early 90s:

  • The Untouchables (1987)
  • Bull Durham (1988)
  • Field of Dreams (1989)
  • Dances with Wolves (1990)
  • Robin Hood: Prince of Theives (1991) 
  • JFK (1991)
  • The Bodyguard (1992)
  • Wyatt Earp (1994)
  • Waterworld (1995)
  • Tin Cup (1996)
  • The Postman (1997)
  • For the Love of the Game (1999)

He had a string of blockbusters every years in the late 80s and early 90s… he was like Will Smith before Will Smith. He sort of lost momentum after Waterworld flopped. Between 1999-2012 he has some smaller notable movies like, The Guardian with Ashton Kutcher. Then, he comes back in 2012 with Hatfields & McCoys, a TV mini-series. 

Then, in 2018, he emerged as John Dutton, patriarch and protector of the realm of the Dutton family on the Peacock smash hit Yellowstone. Yellowstone is the store of a ranching family in Montana and how they face off against others to protect their land. It’s basically succession on horses. Or Sons of Anarchy without motorcycles. Or Peaky Blinders in modern times. You get the idea. 

Anyway, Yellowstone rocked Kevin Costner back into the spotlight. In the first season, he was taking home $500K per episode, however, by the most recent season (the 5th season) he was making $1.3 Million per episode!

Let’s pivot and head back to his personal life. 

Dating History

So, we already established, he married his college sweetheart, Cindy, in 1978, together they had 3 kiddos, and they divorced in 1994 after 16 years of marriage and 19 years together.

Following his divorce, he had a brief relationship with actress Bridget Rooney (related to Kate and Rooney Mara – think she’s their aunt), whom he had a son with in 1996. He then dated political activist Birgit Cunningham. In 1996, he was living with supermodel Elle Macpherson.

Then, on September 25, 2004, Costner married his girlfriend of four years, model and handbag designer Christine Baumgartner, at his ranch in Aspen, Colorado. They had two sons together born in 2007 and 2009, and a daughter born in 2010.

Who is Christine Baumgartner?

We don’t know too much about her… she doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page, but here is what we do know:

  • Baumgartner was born on March 4, 1974, making her 49 years old and 19 years younger than her A-list husband.
  • She worked as a model in the late 80s
  • She graduated from California State University in Fullerton with a degree in business
  • She is a handbag designer – Baumgartner designs handbags under the label Cat Bag Couture, which are available in boutiques.
  • She met Costner while he was filming Tin Cup

After 18 years together, Baumgartner filed for divorce from Costner on May 1, 2023… and then it got messy.

What’s going on with the divorce??

Note: Net Worth – around $400 million 

The reason

The filing cites irreconcilable differences… but that can mean many different things.

Statement from Costner’s rep: “It is with great sadness that circumstances beyond his control have transpired which have resulted in Mr. Costner having to participate in a dissolution of marriage action. We ask that his, Christine’s, and their children’s privacy be respected as they navigate this difficult time.”

Immediately following the divorce filing, a source told Us magazine that Costner was “deeply saddened” by their breakup but was working to try to “save his marriage.” The insider added: “Kevin loves his wife and children so this has been very hard on him. He is saying that this is his worst nightmare and he would do anything for his family.”

A second source revealed that Costner was “blindsided” by the split, noting, “Everyone thought Kevin and his wife were super happy so it’s all surprising. He truly loves her and is trying to get her back.”

So, what’s her side?

According to a source, she’s been unhappy with his filming schedule. The source stated: “[Costner] was on the fence about doing the show from the beginning. He had to be convinced to do the project. There were months of discussions with Kevin and his family before he did it.” According to the insider, delays on the second half of Yellowstone‘s fifth and final season “led to a lot of problems” between the estranged spouses.

“Kevin’s team even asked about the possibility of moving the show to California so he could film certain scenes,” the source noted. “It’s been a discussion through the years, but it never worked out. Kevin has been making a lot of effort to make it work for his family.”

The Prenup

Yes, there’s a prenup… but Christine has petitioned to invalidate it. 

She’s claiming that she signed it under duress:

  • In court documents, she describes the less-than-ideal circumstances surrounding the moment she signed the contract.
  • She provides information that she felt pressured to sign the agreement because of circumstances surrounding its execution.
  • Also according to the filing, Costner wasn’t entirely honest with his soon-to-be wife about his finances before she signed the “unconscionable” agreement.
  • The documents suggest, if she doesn’t know the full story before she signed, and was pressured into doing so, the contract should no longer be valid.

A hearing for the validity of Costner and Baumgartner’s prenup is reportedly set for November.

The house

According to the prenup, Christine had 30 days from filing to vacate their shared home. She did not. And this is the point when things really started to get messy.

In early July, a judge ordered her to move out of their shared family home by July 31, upholding the terms of their existing prenup.

Baumgartner’s attorneys, however, argued that she didn’t have enough time or money to find another place to live by the end of the month. They asked the judge to grant an extension until Aug. 15.

But, the judge ultimately rejected the request.

People reported that she moved out on July 29.

The child support

Christine is seeking $248,000 a month, A MONTH, in child support. And, she claims the total requested is “less than the amount needed to maintain the children in their accustomed lifestyle.”

Costner countered in his response that he could not afford that amount because his 2023 income will diminish following his departure from Yellowstone. Additionally, hiss lawyers argued that Baumgartner does not need that much money and has been frivolously spending it on other things, including cosmetic procedures, shopping, ATM withdrawals, construction loans, attorneys’ fees and other expenses that have “nothing” to do with her kids.

Costner believes a payment of $51,940 a month, is a “reasonable” amount.

An interim ruling in July ordered Costner to pay Baumgartner $129,755 per month for their children’s care in addition to $200,000 in attorneys’ fees and $100,000 in forensic costs.

The Yellowstone Factor

It was reported in February that Kevin Costner may be leaving the show after its sixth season while only making himself available for a week of shooting time to the back six episodes of season five (the first batch finished airing on January 2). 

News of his departure from Yellowstone after season five came a day after it broke that Christine filed for divorce.

Since then, in June, it was announced that season 5 would in fact be the final season. The second half of the fifth season will air in November and December of this year (the final episode of the first half aired Jan 2)

Obviously, Yellowstone was a huge factor in this divorce and Costner’s decision to leave Yellowstone seems to be directly related. 

The question is… did he decide to leave the show to appease his wife and win her back, or to minimize his monthly child support payment? And the answer seems to depend on who you ask. 

To listen to the full deep dive on Jane Fonda, check out our episode of Tell Me More: A deep dive on… on Apple or Spotify. Don’t forget to subscribe so you know exactly when each episode is released!


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