Britney Spears’ father has been suspended from the conservatorship which saw him control the singer’s estate after she called the arrangement “abusive”.
The controversial 13-year-long conservatorship, an arrangement typically reserved for the very old or infirm, was introduced in 2008 when Spears was deemed unfit to look after herself following a series of mental breakdowns.
Judge Brenda Penny yesterday said that it was no longer tenable for Jamie Spears, the singer’s father, to remain in charge of his daughter’s finances and said it would be in her “best interests” for him to be suspended.
Her father must now turn over all of his daughter’s paperwork to accountant John Zabel who will manage her $60 million (£45 million) estate until December 31 while Jodi Montgomery remains conservator of Spears’s personal affairs.
Those involved in the #FreeBritney movement and her wider fanbase have celebrated their idol’s legal victory over her father.
Throughout the battle, celebrities such as Justin Timberlake, Mariah Carey and Khloe Kardashian, shared messages of support for Spears.
The singer did not attend court but on her Instagram she wrote that she was “on cloud 9 right now” while sharing a video showing her at the controls of a plane.
Her new lawyer, Mathew S Rosengart, said the singer had been suffering a “Kafka-esque nightmare” under the conservatorship. He said her father’s involvement in her affairs was “toxic and untenable”, and that his daughter would be “extraordinarily distraught” if he remained in the post.
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He also argued that Spears’ estate was being run into the ground with her father at the helm and reiterated that the singer would not perform again while he is in control. He also alleged that Jamie Spears wanted the conservatorship wound up to avoid having his files examined over fears “his corruption” would be discovered.
Jamie Spears’ lawyer Vivian Thoreen said she “vehemently” contested the “unsubstantiated” claims and defended her client’s “impeccable” record as conservator. Thoreen said he only ever worked in his daughter’s best interests and was keen to resume contact with her.
The removal of her father from the conservatorship marks a significant milestone for the singer after the arrangement was under the spotlight for much of this year following emotional testimonies from Spears and the release of the Framing Britney Spears documentary.
In June, Spears delivered bombshell testimony in open court, demanding an end to the “abusive” arrangement. Among the allegations made during a shocking 23-minute speech were claims she was being forced to use a contraceptive device to prevent her having more children and was unable to marry.
She has since announced her engagement to 27-year-old actor and fitness expert Sam Asghari.
A hearing to discuss the termination of the conservatorship was set for November 12.
For those who don’t follow the news surrounding Spears, it can feel overwhelming to digest all the details. Here’s a complete timeline of everything occurring with the conservatorship battle:
February 2008: Spears is placed under an involuntary psychiatric hold, which results in a temporary conservatorship controlled by her father and a lawyer named Andrew Wallet. A conservatorship is a legal concept which allows a judge to grant a guardian total control over a person’s finances if that person is physically or mentally unable to manage them on their own.
October 2008: The conservatorship becomes permanent, despite Spears being fully back to work. She reportedly had to ask her father for permission on “major decision she makes, from business, to health, to voting and marriage,” reported Newsweek. Even the tiniest of purchases was being tracked, according to The New York Times.
April 2019: Spears checks into a mental health facility and remains there for a month.
May 2019: The singer’s mom, Lynne, files a request to be involved in the conservatorship and informed of her daughter’s medical conditions.
June 2019: Cracks in Spears’ conservatorship begin to show, as Wallet resigns from his role, saying, “Substantial detriment, irreparable harm and immediate danger will result to the conservatee and her estate if the relief requested herein [is] not granted on an ex parte basis.”
Jamie Spears eventually gains full control of Britney’s estate.
September 2019: Jodi Montgomery, Spears’ care manager, obtains control over the star’s conservatorship, after Jamie Spears is temporarily removed due to an alleged altercation with his daughter’s 13-year-old son.
July 2020: Spears’ brother Bryan comments about his sister’s conservatorship on the podcast, As NOT Seen on TV. “She’s always wanted to get out of it,” he said. “It’s very frustrating to have. Whether someone’s coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating.”
August 2020: Jamie Spears regains full control of his daughter’s conservatorship.
September 2020: Spears’ lawyers file an objection to seal parts of the conservatorship from the public. Jamie and the conservatorship’s attorneys have worked to keep courtrooms private and filings sealed in the ongoing case. However, Spears objected to the sealing of her father’s motion to reinstall attorney Andrew Wallet as a co-conservator.
November 2020: Spears’ plea to remove her father from her conservatorship is declined until further notice. According to USA Today, her father argued she’s not ready to take back control of her life and finances. As a result, she is refused to perform as long as her father stays on as her conservator.
December 2020: Spears’ conservatorship is extended until September 2021.
February 2021: The star’s life and career come under renewed scrutiny following the release of the documentary Framing Britney Spears, which examines her treatment at the hands of the media. Spears later says the documentary left her “embarrassed”.
March 2021: Spears asks for Montgomery to be permanently appointed conservator of her person.
April 2021: Spears’ lawyer tells the court the singer wants to address the judge directly and a hearing is set for June 23.
June 2021: The superstar stuns the world with bombshell testimony in Los Angeles, describing the conservatorship as abusive and alleging it prevents her from having more children or getting married. Her father’s legal team has repeatedly denied allegations of abuse, saying he only has his daughter’s best interests at heart.
June 2021: Celebrities join a huge outpouring of support for Spears, with stars including Mariah Carey, Halsey and Khloe Kardashian sharing their backing for the singer.
July 2021: Spurred by Spears’ dramatic courtroom testimony, the financial management firm appointed to work with her father pulls out of the conservatorship, her long-time manager resigns and her court-appointed lawyer signals his intent to step down.
July 2021: Spears again addresses the court in Los Angeles, delivering more emotional testimony and demanding her father be charged with conservator abuse. At the same hearing Mathew S Rosengart is appointed her new lawyer and announces he will take a more aggressive approach to ending the conservatorship.
August 2021: Amid mounting pressure to step aside, Jamie Spears’ lawyers insist there are no grounds for his dismissal. However, a week later, he agrees to his removal, though no timeline is set.
August 2021: Mr Rosengart cranks up the pressure on Spears’ father and accuses him of trying to “extort” his daughter, alleging he is requesting millions of dollars in payments before stepping down.
September 2021: In a stunning move, Jamie Spears petitions the court to terminate the conservatorship. He said “recent events” had raised questions over whether it was still necessary and said his daughter had shown signs she could look after herself. A hearing in the case is set for September 29.
September 29 2021: Jamie Spears is suspended from his role overseeing the pop superstar’s estate. It will now be managed by accountant John Zabel until December 31.
November 12 2021: A hearing to discuss the termination of the conservatorship will take place.
Additional reporting by PA.