Custody battles in Hollywood’s most publicized divorces can sometimes take an ugly turn, but the fight for guardianship isn’t always centered around an estranged couple’s children. In some cases, deciding over the ownership of pets can prove to be just as difficult.
Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, for example, have become infamous for having one of Tinseltown’s messiest splits to date. The former couple, who were 22 years apart in age, first met in 2009 while working on the set of The Rum Diary and tied the knot in Los Angeles in 2015. The exes’ split was announced in May 2016, and Heard filed for divorce. At the time, a source told Us Weekly that the actors “had a horrible relationship.”
Depp and Heard’s separation was finalized in January 2017. Though much of the attention was focused on the former pair’s abuse allegations, Depp’s settlement with Heard and their subsequent lawsuits, the A-listers also had to decide who would get custody over their two adopted pups.
Miranda Lambert and Blake Shelton, one of country music lovers’ favorite former couples, broke hearts in 2015 when they announced their intent to divorce. Though they each found love again with Brendan McLoughlin and Gwen Stefani, respectively, details of their settlement also involved their pets — which they shared several of.
In 2014, Rolling Stone reported on noted the large number of animals in the then couple’s possession. “They’ve got chickens, donkeys, pigs, goats, Black Angus cattle. They have six dogs — all strays Lambert has picked up or adopted from shelters — between the house and the farm, and five barn cats. (‘You gotta have barn cats.’),” the magazine noted at the time. “Lambert also has three horses: an American Paint, a Welsh cob, and a Gypsy Vanner that Shelton gave her for her birthday.”
To this day, reality TV darlings Jon and Kate Gosselin still share a very messy post-divorce relationship. The ex-couple became a household name through their former TLC series, Jon & Kate Plus 8, a series that documented how the pair balanced their relationship along with being parents to eight children: twins Cara and Madelyn and sextuplets Collin, Hannah, Joel, Alexis, Leah and Aaden.
In May 2009, Us broke the news that Jon cheated on Kate with third-grade school teacher Deanna Hummel. He later denied such allegations, despite admitting to having “poor judgment.” Kate filed for divorce soon after, but the news of their separation first surfaced on an episode of their former reality series.
Jon won sole custody of Hannah and Collin, while the twins and four remaining sextuplets are under Kate’s care. However, in addition to fighting over their children, the pair also butted heads over who would take on guardianship over two dogs.
Scroll down to learn more about Hollywood’s biggest couples who fought for custody of their beloved pets.