Child Stars Whose Parents Divorced After Their Kid Made It Big

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  • Britney Spears
    Britney Spears
    American singer, songwriter, and dancer

It's a sad day for the Cyrus clan, since news broke that Miley's parents, Billy Ray and Tish, are divorcing after 19 years of marriage. While there was a close call back in 2010, this time it seems to be the real deal.

This got us thinking: These two have made it through nearly two decades — a big achievement, especially in Hollywood. They raised a daughter who turned into a major star without losing her mind, which is perhaps an even bigger achievement. And now… they're calling it quits? Isn't the hard part behind them?

It turns out, the timeline of their marriage (and its ending), is hardly unique in Hollywood. There are many child stars whose parents stuck it out during those early years, only to divorce after their kid made it big.

Back in 2002, Britney Spears was gracing the cover of Rolling Stone between Shakira and Mary J. Blige — and putting them both to shame. She had the most coveted figure on the planet, a $7 million promotional deal with Pepsi, and several recent Grammy nominations, yet this was the moment her parents announced their divorce.

Though the Mickey Mouse Club vet insisted she was "so happy" that her folks were no longer together, it was shortly after their split that she started a … how can we put this delicately … troubling downward spiral? While her parents were busy breaking up, Britney married a backup dancer with a sketchy past, had some babies, got divorced, shaved her head and ended up in rehab — a few times. And she's hardly alone in that fate.

Lindsay Lohan began her career at the ripe old age of 3, as a model at the Ford Agency in New York. Flanked by her mother Dina, she transitioned into TV and movies, and became one of Hollywood's hottest young starlets when the blockbuster teen comedy, "Mean Girls," hit theaters in 2004. With her fiery locks and bright eyes, Lindsay was poised to be the next big thing. Then her parents filed for divorce in 2005.

According to her father, Michael, this separation caused Lindsay to "fall apart." Her next movie, "Herbie Fully Loaded," was a flop, and rumors began about Lohan's antics, both on set and off. Over the next few years, it seemed she had spent more time in jail and rehab than working, and by 2009 she was "starring" in straight-to-DVD movies like "Labor Pains." (To be fair, it did have a theatrical release in Romania.) Even as this is written, in fact, Lindsay is completing her latest court-ordered rehab stint.

And while not every star falls to pieces the minute their parents divorce, they naturally all feel the sting. Though Taylor Swift, now 22, still has it together, she has lost some of that wide-eyed innocence since her mom and dad split last summer. Her first three albums were packed with bubbly songs about men on white horses and people named Romeo and Juliet. And why shouldn't they be? Upon the release of "Speak Now," she had a perfume, a greeting card line, a collection of Grammys, and enough money to buy houses whenever she got the itch.

Around the time that her parents' troubles began to creep to the surface, however, Swift hit a few bumps in the road. "Red," her fourth album, is much darker than its predecessors and has earned mixed reviews. She's also taken heat for her seemingly endless rotation of famous boyfriends and some slightly odd diva behavior, like the time she crashed the Kennedy wedding and was subsequently kicked out.

Then there's Jessica Simpson. Like Britney, she rose to fame for her bombshell looks, passable voice, and heartthrob boyfriend. In fact, one could argue that it was her reality show, "Newlyweds," and not her first album, "Sweet Kisses," that truly launched her career, which was why it was so surprising when she and Nick Lachey divorced. With her parents by her side, however, Jessica not only recovered, but thrived, going on to spearhead a lucrative fashion line, land a gig as a TV host, get engaged to Eric Johnson, have a baby, and become a Weight Watchers spokesperson.

Then, last October, amid rumors that Joe was gay, Tina filed for divorce and ended their 34-year marriage — that's 15 years longer than the Cyruses were together. A few weeks later, Jessica revealed that she was pregnant with her second child, which was not only unplanned, but also threw a serious cramp in her Weight Watchers deal.

Occasionally, divorced parents of a star will reconcile, like Britney's, for example. In 2010, after eight years apart, the singer's parents were spotted canoodling in public, looking happier than ever. By this time, Spears had gotten out of crazy town and was rebuilding her career.

Of course we can only speculate about causes and effects, but it seems possible that the pressure of having a child who becomes a huge star puts added strain on a marriage, and that, subsequently, a star seeing her parents' union dissolve puts added strain on the star. Bottom line: marriage is hard and having a famous kid doesn't make it any easier.

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