Kevin Costner’s Divorce Illustrates the Need for Default Clauses in Prenups

Default Clauses in Prenups

The divorce proceedings of Hollywood actor Kevin Costner and his wife, Christine Baumgartner, have garnered significant attention in the media. The couple is embroiled in a dispute regarding the division of their assets, with Baumgartner allegedly defying their prenuptial agreement by refusing to vacate their shared residence owned by Costner prior to the marriage.

Costner's legal team claims that the couple's prenuptial agreement stipulated that Baumgartner had 30 days to move out of the property in the event of a divorce. However, she has purportedly taken the position that she will only leave if Costner meets additional financial demands.

In addition to fulfilling his financial obligations as outlined in the prenup, which include payments of $100,000 upon marriage and on their first anniversary, as well as $1 million in the event of a divorce, Costner has allegedly offered financial assistance to help Baumgartner find a new residence. The court documents also mention that the prenup requires Costner to provide $200,000 to facilitate Baumgartner's purchase of a new home and cover property taxes and insurance for one year.

Costner has expressed his willingness to contribute $30,000 per month as part of his child support obligations to secure a rental house for Baumgartner and has offered an additional $10,000 as an advance for her moving costs. However, despite these efforts, Baumgartner is refusing to comply with the terms of the prenup.

Why Your Prenuptial Agreement Should Have a Default Clause

The case highlights the importance of including a default clause in prenuptial agreements. A default clause establishes the consequences that one partner will face if they fail to adhere to the agreement's terms. It often includes provisions requiring the non-complying party to compensate the other party for any losses, damages, expenses, costs, and attorneys' fees resulting from legal actions that need to be taken to enforce the agreement.

The purpose of a prenup is to protect both parties from litigation in the event of a divorce. By including a default clause, you can ensure that your spouse will pay your costs if you end up in court due to their failure to fulfill their obligations. Costner's prenup clearly outlined the timeline for vacating the property, as well as the financial provisions to be met. If his agreement included a valid default clause, he would have a strong claim against Baumgartner to compensate him for all of the legal and other professional fees due to her failure to comply.

Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner’s divorce dispute serves as a reminder of the importance of prenups and the need for clear contractual provisions. By approaching prenups with transparency and open communication about financial goals and expectations before entering a marriage, couples can create a legally binding agreement that protects their interests and establishes a framework for asset division in the event of a divorce. 

When to Contact an Attorney

Consulting with an experienced prenuptial attorney is critical for couples to navigate these complex legal matters and find the best solution for their unique circumstances before entering their marriage. To ensure that your prenuptial agreement has valid and enforceable terms, including a clear default clause, contact Vacca Family Law Group today at 212-768-1115 to schedule your free introductory call.