The conservatorship of Britney Spears has been the center of great public debate for over a decade. But for Spears, it’s more than a curiosity or a subject to argue about online; it’s her very life. The pop superstar and Queen of the 90’s has been living in a prison of her family’s own making since 2007. Fans of the star have been aware of what’s happening to her, but the general public was mostly unaware until a #FreeBritney campaign started online, followed by a documentary called Framing Britney Spears, detailing what the star has endured.
The conservatorship was initiated after a very public breakdown in 2007, which we now know was precipitated by a combination of mental illness, and stress from both the public and the media who were absolutely unrelenting in hounding the star for every step she made. The conservatorship should have been temporary – it was just supposed to be a year. But it has been extended time and time again, and Spears’ father, Jamie Spears, has held the reins of her life ever since. Allegations of abuse, mistreatment, and holding the star captive have swirled for years.
Now, Spears is finally getting a chance to speak without her father’s interference – the first chance she’s ever had to appeal to the court and the public for her freedom. Spears could also conceivably speak out in court and admit that the conservatorship is a good idea and not battle to end it, but to remove her father’s role in it. A recent New York Times article revealed that Spears has been fighting for years quietly behind the scenes to end her conservatorship, and recent comments from her boyfriend show that the star is ready for it to come to an end.
The End of an Era
Britney is free. That’s the message ricocheting across the internet tonight. Although it would be more precise to say that she may be free soon. After 13 years at the helm of the conservatorship and years of being demonized by fans, Britney’s father Jamie is filing to end his daughter’s conservatorship.
Per NBC, “James ‘Jamie’ Spears’ petition to Los Angeles County Superior Court, seen by NBC News, says his daughter ‘is entitled to have this Court now seriously consider whether this conservatorship is no longer required.’ The filing went on to say Britney Spears’ circumstances have changed ‘to such an extent that grounds for establishment of a conservatorship may no longer exist.’
His petition also argued that probate code doesn’t require Britney Spears to undergo a new psychological evaluation to terminate the guardianship, which she told the court she refuses to do. The conservatorship has helped Ms. Spears get through a major life crisis, rehabilitate and advance her career, and put her finances and her affairs in order. But recently, things have changed,’ the filing said. ‘Ms. Spears is now outspoken in her frustration with the level of control imposed by a conservatorship, and has pleaded with this Court to ‘let her have her life back.'”
Britney has twice tried to remove her father from the leadership role in her conservatorship, the latest attempt as recent as last month. Fans are rejoicing, but not everyone believes Jamie’s motives are pure. Is he trying to avoid the consequences of Britney’s accusation that he misused funds that should have gone towards her care? Is he trying to end the media circus that has become his life? Or does he truly care for his daughter and wants to see her free, as she clearly wishes to be?
Britney’s new legal counsel, Mathew Rosengart, is not so sure. Per NBC, ‘It appears that Mr. Spears believes he can try to avoid accountability and justice, including sitting for a sworn deposition and answering other discovery under oath, but as we assess his filing — which was inappropriately sent to the media before it was served on counsel — we will also continue to explore all options,’ Rosengart said.”
The judge overseeing Britney’s conservatorship hearings will likely rule on the petition on September 29th.
Britney Speaks in Court
Today, Spears had her first chance to address both the court and the public without her father’s pre-screening. The pop star has had access to social media all along, but her videos seem weirdly serene in the face of what fans say is immense duress. So now that Spears has had a chance to speak out – what does she have to say?
Supporters of the star flocked to the court room to show their support, rallying outside with supportive cries, outfits, and signs. The judge, from the very beginning, wanted it locked down as much as possible; no recording was allowed of Spears’ live remote call-in to the court, and no photos were allowed. The judge admonished people not to live tweet what they were hearing, but some did anyway. Spears, for her part, did not want the hearing to be private; she hoped it was public so her voice could be heard.
As the court convened with Judge Brenda Penny presiding, Spears’ attorney Samuel Ingham opened with, “My client is free to discuss any aspect of the conservatorship that she wishes and is welcome to say whatever she likes. For the record, I would like to state that I have not in any way attempted to control, filter, or edit anything she has to say.”
Spears statements to the court were jaw-dropping, and heartbreaking. They confirmed the worst fears of Britney fans who have thought she was being held captive. In just a few sentences, the star basically described exactly that scenario. “I am not happy, I can’t sleep. I’m so angry, it’s insane. And I’m depressed.”
The Independent shares Spears’ words; “‘My dad and anyone involved in this conservatorship, including my management … they should be in jail.’
‘The last time I spoke to you [the judge] … made me feel like I was dead. I am telling you again because I am not lying … so maybe you can understand the depth and the degree and the damages … I deserve changes.’
On why she didn’t tell the public about how she felt, Spears said, “I honestly don’t think anyone would believe me. I thought people would make fun of me. I’m just wanting my life back. It’s enough.’
‘All I would honestly like to sue my family [and] share my story with the world.'”
Spears is ready to end her conservatorship, and does not want to submit to any more medical tests to be cleared to do so. According to Spears, she’s “done enough.”
Spears has lied about her well-being and doesn’t believe she was being heard, asking for an opportunity to pick her own lawyer moving forward. FoxNews adds these heartbreaking highlights from Spears’ impassioned address, “Spears says she ‘wants to be able to get married and have a baby,’ and says she has an IUD implanted and wants it taken out. She alleges that she has not been allowed to make those decisions on her own.
… ‘It’s not OK to force me to do anything I don’t want to, Spears says. “The conservatorship should end. I truly believe this conservatorship is abusive.'”
Spears believes her testimony should be public, because she has already been exploited enough and it’s time to have her own voice. Spears’ volley against her family is the first opportunity she’s had to honestly and with full consent speak on her own behalf since she lost control of her life in 2008. Spears wants the “oppressive and controlling” conservatorship to end now. The shocking revelation that they controlled her reproductive rights along with Spears revealing that she was forced to take lithium and felt drunk all the time at one point adds to the overall horrifying image of a woman held against her will.
If the court won’t scrap the whole thing, Spears is requesting that Jodi Montgomery be awarded control of the conservatorship in lieu of her father. Montgomery took over for Jamie Spears in 2019 and part of 2020 when Jamie temporarily stepped down, citing health issues.
At one point, Spears said with tension in her voice, ” … I wish I could stay with you on the phone forever because when I get off the phone with you, all of a sudden all I hear, I hear all these Nos. No No No.
I feel ganged up on, and I feel bullied, and I feel left out and alone. And I’m tired of feeling alone. I deserve to have the same rights as anybody does by having a child, a family, any of those things.”
Behind the Scenes, Britney Has Fought for Her Own Freedom
A recent New York Times article revealed that the pop superstar has been trying for years to put an end to the conservatorship. Britney’s father Jamie has maintained all along that the conservatorship is both necessary and smooth, blending form and function to provide his daughter with the best possible outcome for her life. Jamie would say that, given the fact that he controls her vast fortune, including arranging for how often and much the singer works, effectively giving him as much money as he wants. While a conservator does have to account for the way money is spent, they’re allowed a stipend from their ward’s income to cover reasonable expenses encountered while exercising their role as conservator. Per the New York Times, “Aside from his salary as conservator — now about $16,000 per month, plus $2,000 a month for office space rent — Mr. Spears was approved by the court to receive a percentage of various deals signed for his daughter.”
Per the article, Britney disagrees that her father should remain in charge of her life. ” … confidential court records obtained by The New York Times reveal that Ms. Spears, 39, expressed serious opposition to the conservatorship earlier and more often than had previously been known, and said that it restricted everything from whom she dated to the color of her kitchen cabinets. ‘She articulated she feels the conservatorship has become an oppressive and controlling tool against her,’ a court investigator wrote in a 2016 report. The system had ‘too much control,’ Ms. Spears said, according to the investigator’s account of the conversation. ‘Too, too much!’”
Ms. Spears informed the investigator that she wanted the conservatorship terminated as soon as possible. ‘She is ‘sick of being taken advantage of’ and she said she is the one working and earning her money but everyone around her is on her payroll,’ the investigator wrote. In 2019, Ms. Spears told the court that she had felt forced by the conservatorship into a stay at a mental health facility and to perform against her will.”
The NYT report goes on to detail that the conservatorship has been heavily tainted with fear, by Jamie’s design, if you believe critics. Even when Spears was raking in millions from a Las Vegas residency, her father limited her weekly spending allowance to $2,000. Custody of her children with ex-husband Kevin Federline – who she shares 30/70 custody with – seems to hinge on if Jamie feels she’s competent, making Britney fear a loss of access to her children if she makes her father unhappy.
As early as 2014, Britney was questioning her father’s competence to discharge his role as conservator. Jamie is a recovering alcoholic who has fielded accusations of abuse in the past, and their relationship has always been fraught. Britney’s relationship with her mom Lynne Spears is somewhat better. Lynne has said Jamie is reactionary and can become violent; she believes it’s in Britney’s best interest to end the conservatorship.
Jamie’s Living in an RV?!
As the years have passed, Britney has become even more discontented with her father’s role in her life choices. According to the article, the star tried at one point to make minor cosmetic changes to her house but was prevented due to cost concerns. And Britney also maintains that Jamie forced her to work a grueling schedule, even when she was sick.
Jamie briefly stepped down as conservator in 2019 due to a medical emergency, but maintained control of his daughter’s finances. A new judge took over the case in 2020, and a series of filings led to the conclusion that something is brewing that may chance Spears’ story from here on out. It was Spears herself who requested a chance to speak in court on an expedited schedule.
And as for Jamie? The father of one of the world’s biggest superstars, who controls her vast fortune and lives on $16K a month – he’s living in an RV. Per the NYT, “Mr. Spears has recently been back home in Kentwood, where he is known to host crawfish boils and stop by the town’s VFW bar. But he mostly keeps to himself. ‘He is just the same old Jamie,’ his former football coach, Mr. Shaw, said.
Mr. Spears recently sold the house Ms. Spears grew up in. He has been staying down a winding country road on the outskirts of town, in an RV parked at a warehouse that has stored the boxed-up relics of his daughter’s megawatt career.”
Spears’ Boyfriend Spoke Out Ahead of Court Appearance
Before Spears took the stand in court, her boyfriend Sam Asghari had some prophetic words of support. Per People, “‘I have always wanted nothing but the best for my better half, and will continue to support her following her dreams and creating the future she wants and deserves,’ the Family Business actor, 27, tells PEOPLE exclusively. ‘I am thankful for all of the love and support she is receiving from her fans all over the world, and I am looking forward to a normal, amazing future together.'”
It’s clear Asghari knew that his girlfriend wouldn’t be holding back today and would be letting everyone know exactly where she stands on control for her future. With Spears’ impassioned plea and support around the world, Judge Penny has to carefully weigh the options before her. Although Spears spoke quickly and repeated herself frequently during the address, she did not give off any signs that would wave red flags for mental incompetence. It’s an uphill battle to prove that this capable, talented, multi-award winning superstar can’t even decide what color to paint her cabinets. After today’s address, #FreeBritney has again taken wings. During the hearing, the Judge became aware that people were recording the testimony, and shut down the audio broadcast. It’s likely more information will become publicly available at some point soon, but for now all fans of Spears can do is wait until the next hearing, the date for which has not been released yet.