Kevin Costner’s ‘Yellowstone’ Exit Agreement Brought Up at His Hearing

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    Kevin Costner’s ‘Yellowstone’ Exit Agreement Brought Up at His Hearing


    Kevin Costner took the stand Friday at his child support hearing in Santa Barbara County, where his Yellowstone success and headline-making news of his subsequent exit became a major talking point.

    The 68-year-old actor’s lawyer revealed in court that while Costner will not be returning to the hit Paramount Network show, he’s yet to reach an exit agreement. Yellowstone is currently not in production due to the ongoing Hollywood strikes. While on the stand, Costner testified that there could be litigation with Paramount in the future regarding any monies and/or residuals he would be entitled to, though it seems he hasn’t crossed that bridge just yet. ET has reached out to Paramount.

    Costner’s salary on Yellowstone has been a point of contention, as his estranged wife, Christine Baumgartner, is including salary he earned from the show as part of his cash flow that should be considered when determining how much he should pay in child support for their three children. 

    Under questioning from Baumgartner’s lawyer, Costner outlined his salary while on Yellowstone, noting the show was his first and only successful TV show he’s starred in. He mentioned being a film star and an independent filmmaker, adding that he’s had to underwrite his own projects — Costner’s point being that his Yellowstone salary should not be part of determining how much he should pay in child support because he’ll no longer be drawing a check from the hit show.

    ET exclusively reported in May that Costner would not be returning to Yellowstone due to disagreements over his filming schedule. Costner portrayed the patriarch, John Dutton, in Yellowstone, and its monumental success spawned two prequels — 1883 and 1923, respectively. As the leading man of the flagship series, Costner reportedly earned over $1 million per episode.

    In court documents filed Wednesday, Costner shared he hired a forensic accounting firm to calculate his cash flow. The firm produced his cash flow in two ways, per the court documents — with and without his income from Yellowstone.

    The court documents state Yellowstone was a “complete aberration, and provided Kevin with an unusually high level of income — a level he has never had in the past.” The documents make it clear his work on Yellowstone ended in 2022 and he “is not involved in any future episodes of that series.”

    With his Yellowstone income, the documents state Costner’s average cash flow for the 30 months ending June 30, 2023, 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 state, “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.”

    While under questioning by Baumgartner’s attorney, an eyewitness tells ET that Costner was “calm and composed on the stand.” And when he needed Baumgartner’s attorney to repeat questions, Costner was “very charismatic” in doing so.

    For her part, Baumgartner was emotional when she took the stand Thursday. At one point, she wiped away tears. The divorce battle has become even more contentious as the former couple has repeatedly disagreed on how much Costner should have to pay in child support.

    The court temporarily ordered Costner to pay her $129,000 per month (he initially wanted to pay $51,900), and she recently went to court requesting that the amount be increased to $161,000 per month (she initially wanted $248,000 per month). Baumgartner filed for divorce in May after 18 years of marriage.

    At Thursday’s hearing, Baumgartner testified it was important for the kids to have a “comparable lifestyle” to the one they enjoyed when she and Costner were still a couple, thus her request that the court increase the amount Costner should pay her in monthly child support. But entertainment attorney Mitra Ahouraian, who is not working the Costner case, tells ET that Baumgartner’s argument may not hold up.

    “California law does not require that the lifestyle of the child with one parent completely mirror the lifestyle the child has with the other parent,” Ahouraian said. “They don’t need to be duplicates. The child just has to share in some of the benefits of having a father who is a high-income earner, and that doesn’t mean that it’s flying private jets or having the same kind of vacations or living the exact same type of home … it really doesn’t have to be an exact duplicate.”

    To that point, Costner noted how Baumgartner leased a four-bedroom house on a full acre in nearby Montecito, which Costner said is only “4 minutes from the beach (5 minutes by bicycle).” Costner also noted that Baumgartner’s new house — a six-month lease for $40,000 — also has a larger pool than the one at his beach club estate.

    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 insists he and Baumgartner “simply differ on what ‘reasonable needs’ means in the context of child support.” 

    The actor-director recently proposed paying Baumgartner $63,209 per month in child support, saying he’s adamant that the monthly figure fully meets the reasonable needs of their children. 

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