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.
CPA John Zabel will temporarily replace Spears’ father in the role of conservator of her estate, meaning he will now control all of her financial decisions, for a short term, until next steps are determined, in regards to terminating the conservatorship, altogether. 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 suggest setting a termination hearing within the next 45 days in either October or November.
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. As the case began to play out in the public eye over the past few months, public interest skyrocketed to an all-time high, dominating headlines around the world with a rallying cry to #FreeBritney.
The case has also shed light on the overall conservatorship system, posing questions on the laws and rights of conservatees, like Spears.
On June 23, the pop star gave a blistering testimony, marking the first time she publicly addressed the court in her 13-year conservatorship, though she had given private testimony in 2019, which the singer has 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.
Her court-appointed attorney, Samuel Ingham III, who had represented the pop star since the beginning of her conservatorship and reportedly made $3 million for representing the star, asked the court to dismiss him from her case, prior to her being granted to retain her own attorney with Rosengart. 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 had been publicly battling her father, urging the judge to remove her him from the conservatorship, stating that she believes he should be in jail. Confidential court documents that have been exposed in recent documentaries and through various reporting have shown that Spears allegedly had been trying to get out of her conservatorship for years, despite her conservators stating otherwise.
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. Legal experts indicated that Spears saw the writing on the wall, and asked for the conservatorship to be terminated to relieve himself of any responsibility.
As public interest skyrocketed, Spears’ story became fodder for buzzy programming. Numerous documentaries revolving around Spears have premiered leading up to the hearing.
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. He became sole conservator in 2019 after attorney Andrew Wallet resigned from co-conservatorship. 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.
While under her conservatorship, Spears has continued to record music and perform regularly at her residence in Las Vegas, earning hundreds of millions of dollars. Most individuals under a conservatorship do not have the capacity to work, so Spears’ case was highly abnormal. Per the terms of her conservatorship, the singer has been responsible for paying the hefty legal fees on both sides, while her conservators have been getting substantial earnings in their roles of the 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.