It’s been a headline-grabbing divorce from the start. Kevin Costner’s estranged wife, Christine Baumgartner, reportedly blindsided the actor by filing for divorce after 18 years of marriage. Now, as the couple awaits a final settlement, a judge has ordered Costner to pay Baumgartner $129,000 a month in child support.
Many people might think that this hefty sum would set Baumgartner up for life. But family law experts say that there are a number of factors that could leave her financially vulnerable in the future.
Baumgartner’s attorneys have signaled that she plans to fight for a more substantial settlement, but this could put her entire payout in jeopardy. The prenuptial agreement that Costner and Baumgartner signed before their 2004 marriage limits her potential payout to just $1 million in the event of a divorce. And if she challenges this or any other provision of the agreement, she could forfeit even that amount.
Moreover, Baumgartner’s net worth of around $7 million is considerably less than Costner’s estimated net worth of $250 million. As a result, she could be financially wiped out in the future, given the vast power differential between the estranged spouses.
But there’s another issue that could leave Baumgartner in a precarious financial position: her own legal fees. As the divorce proceedings continue, Baumgartner may wind up using a sizable portion of her $1 million payout to pay her lawyers. And if the court rules that Costner isn’t obligated to cover any of her court costs, she could end up with even less money in the end.
All of this raises the question: Will the money really make a difference for Baumgartner in the long run? While the $129,000-per-month child support payments may seem like a lot of money, they are only temporary and will end once the couple’s youngest child reaches her maturity. And if Baumgartner is left with less money than she had anticipated, she could be in a precarious financial position in the future.
One thing is clear: the Costner/Baumgartner divorce is far from over, and there are still many unknowns about what the final settlement will look like. But one thing is certain: Baumgartner will need to make careful and strategic decisions in order to protect her financial well-being in the years to come.