The 'Yellowstone' star got exactly what he wanted out of the two-day hearing in Santa Barbara court.
Kevin Costner scored a huge victory in court Friday when the judge ruled in his favor and agreed he should only have to pay his estranged wife $63,209 a month in child support, which is drastically less than what she wanted.
The child support payments will go into effect Friday. After the court ordered the reduction in child support, Christine Baumgartner looked stunned but did not offer any emotion beyond that. As for Costner, he seemed happy with the court order. After a quick huddle with his lawyers, Costner -- flanked by police -- was escorted out of the Santa Barbara County courtroom.
Baumgartner left with her attorneys and when ET asked for comment, she offered none. Amid a bitter battle over how much the Yellowstone star should pay in child support, the court temporarily ordered Costner, 68, to pay Baumgartner $129,000 per month. He was initially willing to pay $51,900 per month, while Baumgartner initially wanted him to pay $248,000 per month. Then, just last week, Baumgartner went to court and requested that the $129,000 monthly figure be increased to $161,000 per month.
Baumgartner, 49, had argued that it was important for their children to have a "comparable lifestyle" to the one they enjoyed when she and Costner were still a couple. They share three children -- sons Cayden, 16, and Hayes, 14, and daughter Grace, 13. Baumgartner filed for divorce in May after 18 years of marriage.
Costner previously painted Baumgartner's claim that he "steadfastly refuses" to pay child support sufficient to meet the children's reasonable needs as "demonstrably false and purposely inflammatory." Costner insisted he and Baumgartner "simply differ on what 'reasonable needs' means in the context of child support."
In the end, the actor-director proposed he should only have to pay her $63,209 per month in child support, adding that the monthly figure fully meets the reasonable needs of the children. And the judge agreed.
During Friday's hearing, Costner reflected on his career in Hollywood while under questioning from his attorney. At one point, Baumgartner's attorney interrupted Costner and objected, saying Costner was dragging out his answers. The objection prompted Costner to snap, "This is 19 years of my life that I am talking about, how can I answer succinctly?" The judge intervened and allowed Costner to continue.
The actor testified that his "biggest concern" was that the court would order him to pay child support above the children's needs. He also shared his fear of running out of money, largely because he's not an actor known for doing sequels and only taking on projects he cares about and/or has financed himself.
"I will always take care of my family, but that number [Baumgartner's child support request] is grossly inflated," Costner said on the stand.
He admitted that the family "wants for nothing" and that they enjoy an "incredible life" but he insisted they are fiscally conservative. To that point, Costner pointed to the fact his son drives a 15-year-old Range Rover because he and Baumgartner didn't believe in buying him a new car.
Costner also shared that he doesn't take a big salary from his own production companies. He admitted to earning $26,000 a year from Tig Productions and $200,000 a year from Territory Productions. He testified that he has a lot riding on his latest passion project, the Western film Horizon: An American Saga, which he financed, directed and stars in. Costner said Horizon was supposed to be released later this year but he's since had to delay the release until sometime in 2024 due to the ongoing Hollywood strike and the divorce case. Horizon is a four-part movie series.
During the two-day hearing, things reached a boiling point when Baumgartner insisted on including Costner's Yellowstone salary as part of his cash flow that should be considered to determine how much he should pay in child support.
But at the hearing and in court documents, Costner argued that his Yellowstone salary -- reportedly over $1 million per episode -- was a "complete aberration, and provided Kevin with an unusually high level of income -- a level he has never had in the past."
In court documents obtained by ET, Costner's accountants stated his average cash flow for the 30 months ending June 30, 2023 -- including his Yellowstone income -- was $1,308,920 per month. Without the Yellowstone income, Costner's accountants concluded Costner's monthly cash flow for the 30 months ending June 30, 2023, was $468,136 per month.
"The enormous difference in those figures," the court documents further stated, "establishes Kevin's point, i.e., that Yellowstone was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and that going forward, his income will not reach that level -- ever."
As to whether Costner should have to pay Baumgartner's attorney's fees will be addressed by the court at a later date.