The One Thing Nobody's Talking About In Kevin Costner's Messy Divorce

Costner's divorce from Christine Baumgartner marks the resurgence of the 'messy Hollywood divorce.'

Kevin Costner and his family Ovidiu Hrubaru | Shutterstock

Kevin Costner’s divorce from Christine Baumgartner has become messy. Some may call it Hollywood messy. Actually, it’s been said it’s bringing back the resurgence of the messy Hollywood divorce. I guess there’s been a lull. Who knew? But you don’t have to be a celebrity like Kevin Costner to be ensnared in a disastrously messy divorce.

A lot of people have Kevin Costner’s back. The Yellowstone actor has got a loyal fan base. They believe Baumgartner signed a prenup and requested the divorce. They easily disregard a woman with a nearly two-decade-long marriage who is a mother of three.


But there’s something no one is talking about: Kevin Costner's children.

This high-intensity Costner celebrity divorce drama has centered the conversation around extreme wealth, the sexy Yellowstone actor, prenups, and the accusations of a lazy, over-indulged stay-at-home mother who deserves nothing. Why? Because she supposedly knew what she was getting herself into.

Here’s the thing: People think divorce is about two people, and it might be if they don’t have children.

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But make no mistake, if there are kids involved divorce is not about a husband and a wife. It’s not about taking sides. It’s not about a prenup. It’s about the children.


It’s about grown adults doing the right thing.

Unfortunately, because Kevin Costner is a celebrity and Yellowstone has upped his celebrity magnetism, adoring fans can’t necessarily see past sexy John Dutton. They want to save Yellowstone Ranch along with him. They are circling the wagons around Costner. Costner’s wife Christine Baumgartner isn’t going to take the ranch on their watch.

But let me tell you a potentially humanizing story.

One that may take the focus off Costner’s celebrity status. And remind us average non-famous humans what divorce is really about.

During my own divorce, I was hanging out with one of my boys. We weren’t talking about anything in particular. It was a random regular day. It wasn’t even one of our more stressful days from the severe financial abuse my husband was inflicting. 


Bear with me on this story. I'm not necessarily comparing Costner's divorce to mine. Nor am I suggesting Costner is being financially abusive.

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I'm telling a portion of my own story to highlight a child's point of view during a divorce.

As previously mentioned, nothing unusual was happening on this particular day. It was a lull during the typically severe divorce-fueled financial abuse my children and I were experiencing.

There weren’t foreclosure vultures lining our cul de sac because my husband wasn’t paying the mortgage. A creditor hadn’t called. A sheriff’s deputy hadn’t knocked on our door with a warrant in debt. A repo guy hadn’t invaded our driveway in the middle of the night. The electricity hadn't been cut off. Our health insurance hadn't been canceled. All of these things were happening and even more but not on this day.


It was just the average sadly upsetting time period of a highly unpredictable ugly divorce.

My children’s once safe home had been hijacked by their father. When my teenage children complained to their dad that he was upsetting them, he blamed me. He told my boys it's your mother's fault for leaving me. She's the reason for all this financial hardship.

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Of course, this couldn't have been further from the truth. There was plenty of money. My husband was exercising his anger against me because I was divorcing him. He was using divorce as an excuse for abuse.

"What kind of man," said my son. "Leaves the mother of his children with no savings and no ability to retire?"


I was taken aback by his comment. I was also proud that I was raising three good young men.

My teenage son was conveying a tremendous sense of injustice and right and wrong. He wasn't taking sides between his mother and his father. He was disturbed by the behavior of one of his parents. 

Kids are smart. We raise them to be kind and humble people. We teach them the difference between right and wrong. We instruct them to live with strong values and morals. 

Kevin Costner’s children are as smart as any child during a divorce.

Kids know the truth. They understand which parent is behaving badly during a divorce and which one is not.

We don’t know who behaved badly during the Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner marriage. We don’t know what truly initiated the divorce. We don’t know the inner workings of their personal relationship.


What do we know?

One day, Costner’s children are going to be grown adults. They are already teenage children who are nearly there. They love both their mother and their father as every child should. This means they will worry about both their mother and father, especially during a divorce.

My son was a young adult when he posed that question to me. He was looking at the entirety of what divorce had initiated between his parents. 

RELATED: How Divorce Can Sometimes Set A Good Example For Your Children About Love & Partnership

Costner's children are going to look at the entirety of divorce and ask themselves who did the right thing?

They aren't going to echo Yellowstone fan comments such as, "Our mother deserved next to nothing because she was the one who initiated the divorce." Or "Our mother knew what she was getting into when she signed a prenup as a young bride."


Or "Our mother deserved little because she devoted herself to us as a stay-at-home mother." Or "because our father is wealthy he has no obligation to his wife of nearly two decades or the mother of his children."

How do I know this? I'm the child of divorce. I watched my children be the children of divorce.

One day during my ugly divorce, another one of my boys said something to me. "This happened to you because of us, didn't it?" he said. "It's because you stayed home to raise us."

I can barely write these words while fighting back tears. My sweet child felt it was his fault that his father had unmercifully made our divorce full of extreme financial bullying because I was a stay-at-home mother.


Was my son correct? Sadly, yes. I was financially vulnerable after leaving the workforce for several decades to a man who controlled all of our assets. But it wasn't my children's fault. It was up to his parents to do the right thing during a divorce.

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Costner's children will recognize their father as a man of massive wealth.

They will see how their mother was left in divorce. They will see the tremendous disparity between both households. 

The prenup will matter little to Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner’s children. Kids don’t care about written and legal documents. They don’t care about the process of divorce. They care about their parents. They worry about their parents. They want to know if their parents are okay. They want to know their parents are being kind and fair.


Kevin Costner’s prenup will probably one day mean little to his children.

They will more than likely recognize that a legal document signed nearly two decades before they were born, shouldn’t have defined what their mother was ultimately left with. They will understand that their father could have kept nearly every penny of his massive wealth and still have been somewhat good to their mother.

They will know which parent attempted to do the right thing.

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Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.