Tiger King star Joe Exotic and Dillon Passage wed in December 2017

By Glenn Garner
March 27, 2021 03:15 PM
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Joe Exotic and Dillon Passage
Dillon Passage and Joseph Maldonado-Passage
| Credit: Joe Exotic/Instagram

Joseph "Joe Exotic" Maldonado-Passage and husband Dillon Passage recently announced they're "seeking a divorce."

But the Tiger King star, 58, who is currently serving a 22-year prison sentence, is not "in a hurry" to make their split legal as he told his attorney Francisco Hernandez in an email, which was recently shared to TMZ.

Hernandez did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.

"Me and Dillon have talked and we are not going to get in a hurry and get a legal divorce," the email reportedly stated after Maldonado-Passage had a heart-to-heart on the phone with Passage, 25.

"This has been tough on both of us and he is going to do what he thinks he needs to do and I prefer to stay married right now so things don't get complicated and if I live through this great we will figure it out then," the email stated.

According to TMZ, Maldonado-Passage noted that the pair is still on good terms, adding, "He still answers the phone three times a day and will continue to be my support."

Passage also expressed his support for his incarcerated husband when he announced their divorce on Instagram Friday, writing, "To answer the main question the public wants to know, yes, Joe and I are seeking a divorce."

"This wasn't an easy decision to make but Joe and I both understand that this situation isn't fair to either of us," he continued. "It's something that neither of us were expecting but we are going to take it day by day. We are on good terms still and I hope it can stay that way. I will continue to have Joe in my life and do my best to support him while he undergoes further legal battles to better his situation."

Dillon Passage, Joe Exotic
Dillon Passage and Joseph Maldonado-Passage
| Credit: Dillon Passage/Instagram

Maldonado-Passage's attorney, John Phillips, previously said in a statement to PEOPLE, "Our firm is reviewing options with our client, Joe Maldonado Passage, regarding separation and divorce. We have no comment at this time and request privacy."

Phillips added, "Joe is simultaneously dealing with medical issues, civil rights violations and the appeal of his conviction. The world has come to know Joe Exotic as the bigger than life 'Tiger King,' but right now he is dealing with the very real hardships and injustices within our criminal justice systems and how it destroys all things a person on the outside holds dear."

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Tiger King
Joe Exotic
| Credit: Netflix

The couple tied the knot in December 2017, just two months after the Netflix star's late husband, Travis Maldonado, died of an accidental self-inflicted gunshot.

Nine months later, the former zoo operator was arrested and subsequently found guilty in 2019 of paying Allen Glover $3,000 to kill rival big cat conservationist Carole Baskin, with whom his feud was documented in Netflix's 2020 documentary series Tiger King: Murder, Mayhem and Madness.

Passage told PEOPLE last year about how he's adjusting to life with his husband in prison, "It's something that is a day to day thing. It's kind of my normal life now. It's kind of weird to say, but I've kind of gotten used to our situation."