After 17 years of marriage, Billy Ray Cyrus and his wife Tish have announced they are heading for divorce court.

"As you can imagine, this is a very difficult time for our family," they say in a statement (quote via People). "We are trying to work through some personal matters. We appreciate your thoughts and prayers."

Billy Ray filed the divorce papers in Tennessee on Tuesday, October 26, citing irreconcilable differences. He and Tish were married in December of 1993, just a little over a year after welcoming daughter Destiny Hope, now known to the world as teen sensation Miley Cyrus. They welcomed son Braison in 1994 and daughter Noah in 2000. Billy Ray is also dad to Tish's older children from a previous marriage, as he adopted Trace, now 21, and Brandi, now 19, when they were young children. The singer/actor also has a 17-year-old son, Cody, from a previous relationship.

Among the many rumors that have plagued the celebrity family, Billy Ray always defended their tight bond. "You have to stay focused on what's important and what's real," he told The Boot last year. "You have to realize, with the internet, that 90% of what you see on there ain't real anyway. Luckily, I'm on the inside and I know what's real and what isn't."

Billy Ray is asking for shared custody of their three minor children, Miley, Braison and Noah. In the divorce papers, he also asks the court to approve of a "parenting plan" in the wake of the split, along with "an equitable distribution of the marital estate."

Billy Ray is currently working on a new reality TV series, 'UFO: Unbelievably Freakin' Obvious,' with his son, Trace. He's also the lead vocalist for a Los Angeles-based grunge-rock band, Brother Clyde.

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