After 13 years of relative silence, Britney Spears is sharing with the public her thoughts on the conservatorship that oversees nearly every single aspect of her life.
On June 23, 2021, the pop star virtually faced Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny to speak out against her father, Jamie Spears, and to voice that she wants the legal arrangement, which she previously deemed “too controlling,” to end.
The conservatorship was put in place in 2008 following Britney’s public breakdown in 2007. A 2021 documentary titled “Framing Britney Spears” spotlighted how severe media scrutiny had led to her downfall with substance abuse and mental health issues.
However, over the years, Britney has garnered support from die-hard fans known as #FreeBritney activists, who have questioned the necessity of the conservatorship given that the singer has continued to expand her career with new albums and a successful four-year residency stint in Las Vegas.
Conservatorships are usually reserved for people who have severe mental disabilities or elderly folks who suffer from dementia and cannot make sound decisions for themselves.
Here is a brief summary of some of the most pivotal moments throughout Britney’s decade-plus-long conservatorship.
In November 2006, Britney filed for divorce from Kevin Federline, with whom she shares sons Sean Preston and Jayden James. Their split was finalized in July 2007.
However, in the following months, Britney and Federline found themselves in custody disputes. One in particular in early January 2008 — in which Britney, then 26, allegedly locked herself in a bathroom with their kids — resulted in the police being called.
Britney was subsequently hospitalized and underwent mental health evaluations. That February, after back-to-back psychiatric holds, Jamie petitioned for an emergency temporary conservatorship over his eldest daughter, and LA Superior Court Commissioner Reva Goetz approved it.
Eight months later, Judge Goetz ruled that the conservatorship would be made permanent. According to media reports, she said at the hearing at the time, “The conservatorship is necessary and appropriate for the complexity of financial and business entities and [Britney] being susceptible to undue influence.”
Jamie was named conservator of the person, and attorney Andrew Wallet was assigned to be co-conservator of the estate to help Britney’s dad manage all of her financial affairs.
A month later, Britney gave her fans a small — and rare — glimpse into her new normal with the MTV documentary “Britney: For the Record.”
The previously bubbly pop star appeared glum in some segments, expressing that she felt her routine was monotonous and “too in control,” much to her dismay.
“If I wasn’t under the restraints I’m under right now, with all the lawyers and doctors and people analyzing me every day — if that wasn’t there, I’d feel so liberated,” she said in the doc. “When I tell them the way I feel, it’s like they hear but they’re really not listening … It’s like, it’s bad. I’m sad.”
2014 to 2016
For nearly a decade, Britney didn’t comment publicly anymore on her conservatorship. However, a New York Times report released in June 2021 showed the “Toxic” singer had been speaking up for herself behind closed doors all along.
Previously sealed court documents obtained by the newspaper showed Britney’s court-appointed attorney, Samuel D. Ingham III, said in a 2014 filing that she had expressed concerns about her father’s role, citing his drinking and a “shopping list” of other grievances.
The “…Baby One More Time” singer spoke up again in 2016 to an investigator, who recounted to the court that Britney was “sick of being taken advantage of” and felt she was “the one working and earning her money but everyone around her is on her payroll.”
The Times said she also requested to terminate the conservatorship for good at the time.
In January 2019, Britney announced she was going on an “indefinite work hiatus” after her father suffered a life-threatening illness.
“I am dedicating my focus and energy to care for my family,” she said in a statement at the time. “We have a very special relationship, and I want to be with my family at this time just like they have always been there for me.”
Soon after, it was revealed that her new album and planned second Vegas residency, “Britney: Domination,” would be delayed until further notice as a result of the hiatus. The show had been scheduled for 32 performances at the Park Theatre at Park MGM.
Less than a year after requesting a raise, Wallet resigned as co-conservator of the estate, leaving just Jamie in charge.
The lawyer said in a court notice, “The conservatorship is engaged in numerous ongoing business activities requiring immediate attention and it therefore is in the best interest of the conservatee that the acceptance of Wallet’s resignation and the issuance of amended letters of conservatorship of the estate occur immediately and without delay.”
The specific details surrounding Wallet’s seemingly sudden resignation remain unknown.
In early April 2019, Britney checked into a mental health facility amid reports that she had been struggling to deal with her father’s illness.
However, that same month, a whistleblower claimed on the “Britney’s Gram” podcast that Britney was being held against her will, causing an uproar within the #FreeBritney movement.
An anonymous source claiming to have worked as a paralegal for a law office involved with Britney’s conservatorship left the podcasters a voicemail message stating that Britney was admitted to the facility because she had been refusing to take her medication and was seen driving, which went against the conservatorship’s guidelines.
The anonymous paralegal’s claims were all but confirmed in the court documents revealed in the New York Times’ bombshell June 2021 article.
The paper reported that Britney told the court during a closed-door hearing in May 2019 that she had been forced to go to a mental health facility against her will. She reportedly saw it as punishment for making an objection during a rehearsal for her Las Vegas residency, which she said she once performed with a 104-degree fever.
Jamie and his legal team have long denied claims that he has mismanaged Britney’s life and career. In August 2020, he told Page Six, “It’s up to the court of California to decide what’s best for my daughter. It’s no one else’s business.”
In August 2019, Jamie allegedly had a physical altercation with Britney and Federline’s then-13-year-old son, Sean Preston. Criminal charges were not filed against Jamie, but Federline got a restraining order to keep both of his and Britney’s sons away from his former father-in-law after the incident.
One month after the alleged altercation with his grandson, Jamie was temporarily replaced as co-conservator of Britney’s person. He cited health issues as the reason, as Britney’s care manager, Jodi Montgomery, stepped in as his replacement. This did not remove Jamie from the conservatorship altogether, but Judge Penny did extend Montgomery’s temporary role until at least September 2021.
Nearly a year later, Britney’s attorney, Ingham, filed a petition stating that the performer “strongly opposed” having her father return as sole conservator of the person once he recuperated from his health issues. In the documents, the “Gimme More” singer did not request to have the conservatorship ended completely, but rather to “have a qualified corporate fiduciary appointed to serve in this role.”
However, in November, Judge Penny declined Britney’s request to remove her dad from the conservatorship despite her lawyer’s allegations that she was “afraid” of him.
At that same November hearing, Judge Penny did approve for Jamie to split his responsibilities in overseeing Britney’s financial affairs with the firm Bessemer Trust. The private company — which offers comprehensive investment management, wealth planning, and family office services — was chosen by Ingham, so many fans saw it as a small win for Britney.
The New York Times and FX released the documentary “Framing Britney Spears” in February 2021, sparking nationwide support for the pop princess among fans and celebs alike.
The special documented Britney’s rise to fame, mental health issues as a result of severe public scrutiny, conservatorship and the #FreeBritney movement.
That March, Britney formally requested in a court petition that Montgomery permanently replace Jamie as conservator over the singer’s personal affairs.
Regardless of how this ruling pans out, Jamie would remain co-conservator of her estate alongside Bessemer Trust.
Britney addressed Judge Penny for the first time in years and first time ever at a public hearing in June 2021, which she attended virtually. She alleged at the bombshell hearing that her conservators were “abusive” and “bullying” her. She even claimed they forced her to use birth control despite her wishes to marry and have a baby with her boyfriend, Sam Asghari.
Despite previous reports she only wanted her father out, Britney told Judge Penny, “It’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end.”
In the wake of the hearing, Bessemer Trust resigned as co-conservator of the estate in July 2021, saying in court documents that it had been under the impression that the conservatorship was voluntary until Britney’s testimony.
Days later, TMZ reported that Ingham was set to step down from the conservatorship case after 13 years as Britney’s court-appointed lawyer.
On July 14, Judge Penny gave Britney permission to choose her own attorney in what was deemed a major court victory for the pop star. Former federal prosecutor Mathew Rosengart was then named her new lawyer at the hearing.
A source told Page Six that Rosengart had “multiple conversations” with Britney, adding, “He has been keeping close tabs on her case for a while now and felt that her testimony last month was very compelling.”
In August 2021, Britney’s father agreed for the first time to step down as her conservator — eventually.
Jamie said in court documents filed on Aug. 12 that he “does not believe that a public battle with his daughter over his continuing service as her conservator would be in her best interests,” adding that he would work together with the court and Rosengart on an “orderly transition to a new conservator.”
Rosengart called Jamie’s concession a “major victory” for Britney but also slammed the disgruntled dad for his “ongoing shameful and reprehensible attacks” against his pop star daughter.
In his filing, Jamie highlighted Britney’s alleged “addiction and mental health issues that she has struggled with, and all of the challenges of the Conservatorship.”
Rosengart replied in a statement to Page Six, “Rather than making false accusations and taking cheap shots at his own daughter, Mr. Spears should remain silent and step aside immediately.”
The high-powered attorney also vowed to continue his “vigorous investigation into the conduct of Mr. Spears, and others, over the past 13 years.”
Jamie filed a petition on Sept. 7, 2021, to finally end his daughter’s 13-year conservatorship and noted that the court has the power to eliminate it “without ordering a psychological evaluation” — as Britney said in her June 23 testimony that she wished to do.
He also said via attorney, Vivian Lee Thoreen, that Britney’s “circumstances have changed to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist.”
“Ms. Spears has told this court that she wants control of her life back without the safety rails of a conservatorship,” the petition continued, conceding that Britney “wants to live her life as she chooses without the constraints of a conservator or court proceeding.”
Rosengart called Jamie’s change of heart “a massive legal victory” for his mega-star client, but pointed out that he and his team’s “investigation into financial mismanagement and other issues will continue.”
On Sept. 29, 2021, Jamie was officially suspended from Britney’s conservatorship.
“The current situation is untenable,” Judge Penny said after hearing arguments from both Jamie and Britney’s attorneys. “It reflects a toxic environment.”
Per Rosengart’s request, certified public accountant John Zabel was appointed temporary conservator of Britney’s $60 million estate. Jodi Montgomery remained temporary conservator of the person.
A hearing to determine whether the conservatorship will be terminated is scheduled for Nov. 12.
Judge Brenda Penny of the Los Angeles County Superior Court officially ruled to terminate the pop megastar’s conservatorship Nov. 12.
“The court finds the conservatorship of the person and estate of Britney Spears is no longer required,” Judge Penny said during the afternoon hearing.
The singer took to Instagram shortly after the ruling to thank fans for their support through her 13 years under conservatorship.
“Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy !!! I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!!,” she wrote. “Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen????” she continued, adding the hashtag, “#FreedBritney.”