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Britney Spears is officially free. After nearly 14 years, the 39-year-old singer's conservatorship has been terminated effective today. Judge Brenda Penny dissolved the legal arrangement during Friday afternoon's hearing, granting the pop star's earlier request for it to end without undergoing additional mental evaluations.
"The conservatorship of the person and estate of Britney Jean Spears is no longer required," the judge declared, per the New York Times.
Britney shared a video of the hundreds of #FreeBritney supporters who were at the courthouse in Los Angeles on Friday.
"I love my fans so much it's crazy," she captioned the post. "I think I'm gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever…"
Britney's attorney Mathew Rosengart, who was appointed only four months ago, addressed reporters after the hearing — which lasted less than 30 minutes.
"What's next for Britney, and this is the first time this could be said for about a decade, is up to one person: Britney," he said as a crowd of #FreeBritney supporters cheered. Rosengart noted the singer has been set up in a position "to succeed" post-conservatorship.
"We have a safety net in place for Britney, both on the personal side and on the financial side," he added. "But Britney as of today is a free woman and she's an independent woman and the rest, with her support system, will be up to Britney."
"What's next for Britney, and this is the first time this could be said for about a decade, is up to one person: Britney," says Britney Spears' lawyer Matthew Rosengart. https://t.co/VH7GACoxbW pic.twitter.com/PZaY5JOFKm
— Variety (@Variety) November 12, 2021
Britney and her multimillion-dollar estate have been under the control of father Jamie Spears for more than a decade and his role has also been terminated. Certified public accountant John Zabel, who was approved to temporarily take over as conservator of the estate in September, will stay on to ensure a smooth transition in regard to Britney's finances.
"This week is gonna be very interesting for me," Britney wrote in a now-deleted Instagram post earlier this week. "I haven't prayed for something more in my life. I know I've said some things on my [Instagram] out of anger and I'm only human and I believe you'd feel the same way if you were me."
Nearly everyone involved with the conservatorship publicly supported the dissolution of the conservatorship ahead of Friday's anticipated hearing, including Jamie, Britney's mother, Lynne Spears, and Jodi Montgomery, conservator of the person. Montgomery worked with Rosengart on what he called a "termination plan" in court filings last month.
"Britney's freedom from conservatorship is long overdue. It was stunning to see someone in her position forced into a position of abuse for so long," attorney Harry Nelson, managing partner of L.A.-based Nelson Hardiman, tells Yahoo Entertainment. "The success of #FreeBritney should be a clarion call to reform our system of conservatorship. We need to demand more accountability from conservators and to make it easier for courts to terminate conservatorships that have outlived their usefulness and to prevent abuses by conservators."
The conservatorship was established in February 2008 after a string of troubling incidents put Britney's behavior in the spotlight. As she worked through various personal challenges, she was never given the chance to regain control over her life, financially or personally. But after Britney's bombshell testimony on June 23, in which she called out the "abusive" conservatorship and said her father and management team should be in jail, things moved quickly.
Samuel Ingham, Britney's court-appointed lawyer since 2008, resigned amid scrutiny. The superstar's longtime manager, Larry Rudolph, also resigned. Bessemer Trust dropped out as co-conservator of Britney's estate as the wealth management group said it believed the conservatorship was voluntary and that the star wanted the company to be involved.
Britney spoke again at the next hearing on July 14 calling on the judge to investigate her dad for abuse. In her first key victory, Judge Penny approved Britney's request to allow Rosengart to represent her. Rosengart vowed to oust Jamie if he did not step down voluntarily — and that's exactly what happened on Sept. 29 when he was suspended as conservator of Britney's estate.
Zabel's appointment could be crucial in a potential criminal case against Jamie. Although Britney's dad pushed to have the conservatorship terminated two months ago, that could only help him as any confidential or damaging information would be dissolved along with it.
"The call to action should now be #HoldJamieAccountable," Nelson says. "For medicating Britney against her wishes; for preventing her from becoming a mom again; for bugging her bedroom and invading her privacy; for spending millions of her money to maintain his power. All of his actions convey abuse of power and demand accountability."
Nelson continues, "We should also make sure that this is a moment where we advance the rights of every person living with a disability, not just one celebrity. Where we make our system more effective at protecting people and less susceptible to abusing their rights. A more nimble system would save lives and prevent abuse in a time when many people are at risk. Our system should not be so easy to subvert."