Britney Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, has been ousted from her conservatorship, following a long, drawn-out legal battle that has persisted since the pop star was placed under the court-ordered arrangement in 2008.
Judge Brenda Penny ruled that Spears’ father will no longer serve as the conservator of his daughter’s estate, immediately removing him from the conservatorship altogether.
John Zabel, an accountant, will temporarily replace Spears’ father in the role of conservator of her estate, meaning he will now control all of her financial decisions until next steps are determined. Spears’ conservator of her person, Jodi Montgomery, who manages her day-to-day wellbeing and medical decisions, still remains on the case.
No decision was made on the fate of the conservatorship altogether, which Spears’ attorney, Mathew Rosengart, said should be terminated this fall. Rosengart suggested a termination hearing in the next 45 days. This could be scheduled for either October or November. Rosengart informed the judge that she agreed with Rosengart’s plan to suspend her father first and then terminate the conservatorship. This would be in her best interests.
Vivian Thoreen, the attorney for Spears’ father, strongly objected to the suspension and called Zabel a “stranger” on the case.
This news is the most significant development in Spears’ ongoing conservatorship saga, which over the past few months has played out in the public eye. This past summer has seen more movement in Spears’ case than in 13 years, largely because of the star’s own public testimony and the ability to hire her own attorney.
This past summer has seen more movement in Spears’ case than in the past 13 years, largely because of the star’s own public testimony and the ability to hire her own attorney. The case was gaining momentum over the past months and the public’s interest soared to an all-time high. It was a story that dominated headlines across the globe with the call to #FreeBritney.
The case sheds light on conservatorship in general, raising questions about rights and laws for conservatees such as Spears.
The star of pop gave a scathing testimony to the court on June 23. It was her first public appearance in 13 years of conservatorship. She had also given private testimony in 2019, which Spears described as being ignored. During her 24-minute statement in June, Spears told the judge her conservatorship was “abusive” and asked for it to be terminated without further evaluation.
In the immediate weeks following Spears’ first testimony, the legal team surrounding her conservatorship endured massive shake-ups.
Samuel Ingham III, her court-appointed attorney who had represented Spears since the beginning her conservatorship, reportedly earned $3 million for representing her. She asked the court to dismiss Ingham III from her case before Rosengart granted her permission to retain her own attorney. The wealth management firm, Bessemer Trust, which was poised to take over as co-conservator of Spears’ estate and work in conjunction with her father, also pulled out of the conservatorship. Spears’ longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, resigned as well, after 25 years of working alongside the star, as she rose from teen starlet to international superstar.
Spears was publicly fighting her father, asking the judge for his removal from the conservatorship. Spears stated that she believes he should go to jail. Documents from the court that were confidential have been revealed in documentaries and various reports. They show that Spears tried to get out of her conservatorship since years, despite conservators’ objections.
After more than a decade of maintaining that she needs to be held under a conservatorship, Spears’ father changed his tune in August, abruptly agreeing to step down from the conservatorship that he had overseen since it was approved by the court in 2008. Shortly after, in early September, he then suddenly asked the court to terminate the conservatorship altogether — a complete 180 from all of his previous statements, including the recent accusation in early August that his famous daughter is “mentally sick” and may need a psychiatric hold. According to legal experts Spears realized the truth and demanded that the conservatorship be terminated.
As public interest skyrocketed, Spears’ story became fodder for buzzy programming. Before the hearing, numerous documentaries about Spears were shown.
In FX and Hulu’s “Controlling Britney Spears,” the follow-up to the Emmy-nominated “Framing Britney Spears,” The New York Times exposed damning allegations that Spears’ father and her conservators were closely monitoring the pop star by tracking her phone and bugging her home, where they captured audio recordings of her private conservations in her bedroom. CNN aired an hourlong special report, “Toxic: Britney Spears’ Battle For Freedom.” And on Tuesday, Netflix launched a hotly anticipated doc, directed by Erin Lee Carr, “Britney vs Spears,” which took a look at the network of conservators, beyond Spears’ father, namely her former business manager, Lou Taylor of Tri Star Sports and Entertainment Group.
Spears’ father had been her co-conservator since 2008, when the singer suffered a very public breakdown. After Andrew Wallet, attorney, resigned as co-conservatorship, he became the sole conservator. In September 2019, he temporarily relinquished his powers and Montgomery became the conservator of her person, meaning she became responsible for Spears’ medical and personal well-being.
Spears continued to record music and perform at her Las Vegas home, earning hundreds of million dollars while under her conservatorship. Most individuals under a conservatorship do not have the capacity to work, so Spears’ case was highly abnormal. According to her conservatorship, Spears was responsible for both legal fees. However, her conservators have been receiving substantial earnings as a result of their conservatorship.
Despite fighting words from the singer and her attorney, plus various allegations unearthed through the documentaries, Spears’ father has repeatedly denied all allegations of wrongdoing and has maintained that he is solely looking out for the best interest of his daughter.