EXCLUSIVE: Christine Baumgartner is ordered to pay $14,000 sanction for refusing to explain why prenup with Kevin Costner should be voided – as judge postpones hearing on legal fees
- Judge Thomas Anderle on Wednesday ordered Christine Baumgartner to pay $14,000 fine after she failed to explain on why her prenup should be voided
- Her attorney asked the judge to reconsider the decision saying providing full answers to Costner’s lawyers would violate her attorney-client privilege
- Neither Baumgartner or estranged husband Kevin Costner were in court, although she appeared via Zoom from her Range Rover SUV
Christine Baumgartner was ordered to pay a $14,000 sanction by a judge in Santa Barbara today, after he sided with her estranged husband Kevin Costner who said she had failed to provide full details about her bid for spousal support.
Baumgartner, 49, is hoping to void the spousal support section of their prenuptial agreement at trial in November so she can be awarded alimony.
She also wants Judge Thomas Anderle to hand her $855,000 in projected attorney fees to cover the cost.
In court today, Judge Anderle agreed to postpone the decision on the legal costs until September 20 when a full hearing on the issue is scheduled.
Baumgartner’s attorney John Rydell also asked him to reconsider his decision to sanction Baumgartner – saying providing full answers about why she feels the premarital agreement should be overturned to Costner’s lawyers would violate her attorney-client privilege.
Neither Costner or Baumgartner were in court, although Baumgartner, dressed in an orange sweater and with her blonde hair pulled back, appeared via Zoom from her Range Rover SUV.
Kevin Costner was snapped heading to a meeting in Los Angeles on Wednesday and his and his estranged wife’s attorney’s appeared in court
The actor, who made his first public appearance since his wife demanded he pay her $800,000 legal fees, was clad in casual jeans and carrying a backpack
Estranged wife Christine Baumgartner, who appeared via Zoom on Wednesday, was ordered to pay a $14,000 fine after she failed to explain on why her prenup should be voided
Judge Anderle also denied Baumgartner’s request to have Costner sanctioned over his alleged failure to provide all of his financial documents, with Rydell told to produce a list of what is missing and send it to Costner’s attorneys Laura Wasser and Jacqueline Misho.
Baumgartner’s latest legal setback comes days after Judge Anderle slashed her child support payments from a monthly fee of $129,000 to $63,000.
The mom-of-three had been asking for a bump in her payments to $161,000.
The Yellowstone actor, 68, and his soon-to-be ex-wife are now due to appear in front of the judge later this month to hear his decision on who pays for what.
Costner has already racked up a $644,000 legal tab of his own but argued that he shouldn’t have to foot Baumgartner’s bill on top of his own.
During an evidentiary hearing last week, his lawyer Laura Wasser said the mom-of-three is attempting to ‘amass a war chest to sue Kevin.’
Baumgartner’s $855,000 request is a projected amount and combines the money she has spent so far with the amount she believes she’ll need to cover the costs of a seven-day trial over the couple’s prenuptial agreement beginning November 28.
According to a breakdown aired in court last week, the total includes $575,000 for attorney fees and $280,000 for expert witnesses.
The warring couple had expected a decision on legal fees at the end of an evidentiary hearing last week, but Judge Anderle deferred his conclusion until today, saying he needed more time to make up his mind.
However, he did decide on child support – slashing Baumgartner’s temporary payment of $129,000-per-month in half to $63,000.
Both Baumgartner and Costner looked stunned by the decision – with the 49-year-old standing up and immediately consulting with her lawyers.
A friend told DailyMail.com that the decision had left her shocked. The pal said: ‘Christine is shocked. She said even Kevin looked shocked. Everyone looked shocked.
‘To say Christine is disappointed is an understatement. She described the ruling is a complete joke.’
Costner has already racked up a $644,000 legal tab of his own but has argued that he shouldn’t have to foot Baumgartner’s bill on top of his own
The mom-of-three had been enjoying a temporary monthly payment of $129,000 and had wanted it bumped to $161,000
DailyMail.com previously revealed that Baumgartner, 49, moved into the luxury four-bedroom home on Friday – after a judge in Santa Barbara, California, slashed her child support payments
The friend added: ‘Christine said they [Costner and his legal team] painted the picture of this shallow, greedy gold-digger and that if Kevin could get past his anger and revenge, he would see how this is hurting their kids.
‘She said Kevin is ripping her apart from her community by making it impossible to live in the tight-knit neighborhood.
‘Christine said this was never about beach views and Kevin knows this. He knows how much the community means to Christine, and that this is his way of punishing her.
‘Christine said the fight is far from over.’
Speaking to DailyMail.com, Brett Ward, a partner at New York legal firm Blank Rome and an expert in family law, said a party requesting fees isn’t unusual, although the potential size of the award is.
He also said judges tend to take a dim view of what they see as excessive requests and generally want to prevent drawn out cases like the Costner divorce is becoming.
He said: ‘There is certainly a legal basis for [Baumgartner’s] request. However, a judge will examine the reasonableness of the fees requested.
‘Judges generally do not want to encourage additional litigation by providing one side with a war chest of future legal fees.
‘Courts generally balance the less wealthy party’s right to carry on the litigation in a fair manner against the concern that a party with a significant fee award will take that money and use it to make every possible argument available, no matter the merit or lack thereof for each claim.’
In July Baumgartner was court-ordered to vacate the former couple’s $145million lavish California mansion
Baumgartner and Costner have been slugging it out in court since May when she abruptly filed for divorce, leaving the actor ‘blindsided’
Ward said the enormous legal bills the pair are racking up are unusual in family court but added that much of the money can be explained by the value of the assets being wrangled over and expects the eventual tab to be much higher.
He said: ‘At this pace, and without a settlement in the near future, I would not be surprised if the combined legal fees approach or exceed $5 million.’
Last week saw both the actor and his estranged wife take to the stand as they attempted to set out their case for how much Baumgartner should get in child support.
In her testimony on day one, Baumgartner said she needed more cash to provide a suitable home for their three children Cayden, 16, Hayes, 14 and Grace, 13.
She said her new $40,000-a-month Montecito rental does not compare to Costner’s $75million Carpinteria compound and complained her sons would have to share a bathroom.
Baumgartner also said the pool house guest accommodation was substandard and moaned that the property does not have beach access – a must for her watersports-obsessed offspring.
During his testimony, Costner told court that his biggest fear was being forced to take on jobs he didn’t want to; should Baumgartner be awarded an ‘inflated’ level of child support.
He also apologized to his estranged wife of 18 years, saying: ‘I want to help but the thought of having things inflated to the point I can’t do what I want to do… ‘Somehow in this unusual world, we didn’t make it and for that, I’m sorry.’
Costner, who cut a laconic figure on the stand, was also asked about her new home and whether he would swap his mansion for hers.
Costner’s lawyer accused Baumgartner of making ‘unreasonable’ financial demands
Asked if the single property compared to his five-lot compound, the veteran actor said: ‘I only live in one of the properties so I believe they’re comparable. I don’t think they’re equal.’
When attorney John Rydell asked if he would swap homes with his ex, Costner, wearing a pair of black framed glasses, burst out laughing and quipped: ‘This is tricky!’
He went on: ‘No, I would not but not because I don’t think that home is comparable. ‘I have raised three children in my home, their hands are in the stone. I think most people would understand that.’
Smiling, he added: ‘There are some features [of Baumgartner’s new house] I’d like to have in mine.’
The court also heard details of the family’s lavish spending – which totaled $240,000-a-month in 2022.
Expenses included $40,000 spent each month on flowers and gifts alone, although Costner’s forensic accountant Tracy Katz pointed out the figure is for the entire family, including Baumgartner.
Katz said the 49-year-old was responsible for a host of big-ticket items, including $18,000-a-month on medical bills, $18,855 on clothing and $3,377 on beauty treatments.
On top of that, Baumgartner was responsible for the lion’s share of the $8,886 in cash taken out at ATM machines according to Katz.
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