Why Miley Cyrus & Liam Hemsworth's Post-Divorce Pet Situation Is Complicated

PHoto: John Sciulli/Getty Images.
One of our favorite celebrity couples called it quits, only seven months after getting married. Earlier this week, Liam Hemsworth reportedly filed for divorce from Miley Cyrus, days after the pair announced their separation.
The couple, who met when they were playing love interests on the set of Nicholas Sparks movie The Last Song, was one many fans rooted for. After 10 years of on-again, off-again dating, many fans saw the reunion as a sweet reminder that sometimes love can transcend changing public personas, drama, and one “Wrecking Ball” of a breakup ballad. However, while fans may be upset by the end of Liley, the real concern might be what happens to the others in their lives: their beloved animals.
An important thread connecting Cyrus and Hemsworth are their family pets. Their animals even came up in Cyrus' representatives’ statement about the breakup.
"Ever-evolving, changing as partners and individuals, they have decided this is what’s best while they both focus on themselves and careers," reads the statement. "They still remain dedicated parents to all of their animals they share while lovingly taking this time apart."
Cyrus and Hemsworth reportedly share dogs, cats, pigs, and horses. (Cyrus' most well-known adopted pig, Bubba Sue, died in July.) Animals have long bonded the couple. Before they officially reunited in 2015, Cyrus helped Hemsworth adopt a dog. Back in December of 2018, Cyrus told Howard Stern in an interview that Hemsworth saved their animals from the Malibu wildfires.
"Liam, I’ve never loved him more for this," Cyrus told Stern. "I call him my survival partner now. He thinks it’s not romantic, but I learned that it is. It is why you pair up with someone, for survival. He was so incredible — he got all the animals out in his truck. He put two pigs in crates, which I tell you is so hard."
Refinery29 spoke to NYC-based matrimonial and family law attorney Kelly Frawley, who does not represent Cyrus or Hemsworth, about the situation.
"I haven’t done pet custody in a prenup, but I can’t see why not," Frawley explains of the divorce proceedings."It might not be an enforceable provision, but if there is a dispute over what will happen to the pets, the court may see the [plan] as what the parties intended and try to effectuate what that intent is." TMZ reported that Cyrus and Hemsworth do have a prenuptial agreement, though their reps did not confirm it.
One thing that could also potentially come into play is their pair's social media activity. Cyrus has been more outspoken on social platforms in the wake of the split, and following paparazzi snapping her kissing friend Kaitlynn Carter (Brody Jenner's recent ex) on vacation in Italy.
"Since they have pets, if Miley is out and about, socializing in public, one could argue that Liam should get the pets because she’s not even home," says Frawley. "It's about not upsetting your soon-to-be ex-spouse, where they might take more aggressive positions because they’re jealous of what you’re doing on social media, or annoyed that you’re potentially humiliating them, and you’re putting your dirty laundry out for the world to see. From a financial perspective, it has no impact."
Which pets go to whom could depend on what kind of animal they are, she adds.
"When it comes to horses and pigs, they’re not domesticated animals. They might be treated as straight property," Frawley says. "In jurisdiction with cats and dogs, courts sometimes take a similar approach to what they would do with children. They will give a similar ‘best interest’ analysis, as they would do with kids. Whoever owns the animals, [meaning] whoever’s name is on whatever paperwork, is on the ownership material, would likely take priority."
Breakups are hard on everyone, but ideally Cyrus and Hemsworth will be able to work together to make sure things work out in the best way possible for their beloved pets.

More from Pop Culture

R29 Original Series