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Britney Spears has been under the conservatorship of her dad, Jamie Spears, since 2008.
Now, she has requested to speak in court for the first time at a hearing set for June 23.
Jamie has also said publicly that he wants the conservatorship to end.
More than a decade ago, Britney Spears entered into a conservatorship with her father, Jamie Spears, after suffering a very public breakdown. Under the conservatorship, Jamie reportedly has full control over Britney’s financial and medical affairs.
A conservatorship is when a judge appoints a responsible person or organization (called the "conservator") to care for another adult (called the "conservatee") who cannot care for themselves or manage their own finances, according to the California Courts website.
In Britney's case, the terms of the conservatorship have not been made public, but in September 2020 she filed to open up parts of her conservatorship, according to TMZ, signaling that the pop star herself may be on board with the #FreeBritney movement.
Brit's fans have cited suspicion over the conservatorship and have been calling for it to end for years. There’s currently a petition to the White House to help end the conservatorship and a #FreeBritney movement that is calling for legal intervention to help Britney regain control over her finances and life. Some financial documents obtained by Business Insider show that Britney spent $1.1 million on her legal and conservator fees in 2018.
Recently, her conservatorship story also got the documentary treatment with Framing Britney Spears. Directed and produced by the New York Times and Left/Right, the film debuted in February on FX and Hulu. The doc focuses on Britney’s childhood, rise to stardom, and her current legal battles with her conservatorship. The documentary features interviews with a lifelong family friend of Britney who traveled with her for much of her career, the marketing executive who originally created Britney's image, a lawyer currently working on the conservatorship, and other key insiders.
In the wake of the doc, multiple celebrities publicly expressed support for Britney, with some joining the #FreeBritney movement. And now, Britney herself has responded to the documentary. On Monday, Mar. 31, she shared her thoughts in the caption of an Instagram video of herself dancing to Aerosmith. "My life has always been very speculated ...watched ... and judged really my whole life !!!," Britney began her statement.
"I have been exposed my whole life performing in front of people 😳😳😳 !!! It takes a lot of strength to TRUST the universe with your real vulnerability cause I've always been so judged... insulted... and embarrassed by the media... and I still am till this day 👎🏼👎🏼👎🏼 !!!!" she continued. "As the world keeps on turning and life goes on we still remain so fragile and sensitive as people !!!"
Britney also said that, although she personally did not watch Framing Britney, she heard about it, and it really upset her. "I didn't watch the documentary but from what I did see of it I was embarrassed by the light they put me in ... I cried for two weeks and well .... I still cry sometimes !!!!" she wrote. "I do what I can in my own spirituality with myself to try and keep my own joy ... love ... and happiness ✨🙏🏼 ☀️ !!!!"
She ended the post with an inspiring message to her fans that her goal is to "pass on kindness."
"Every day dancing brings me joy !!! I'm not here to be perfect ... perfect is boring ... I'm here to pass on kindness 💋💋💋 !!!!" she wrote.
With the popstar's most recent statement in mind, here's everything to know about how Britney's conservatorship started and where things stand now:
2007 and 2008: Britney started acting erratically in public.
She was spotted driving her car with her infant son in her lap, shaved her head, and attacked a photographer’s car with an umbrella. In 2008, Britney was put under a 5150 hold in a psychiatric hospital twice for a mental health evaluation. "She went willingly. It was like something in her heart was telling her she should go. She knew something was wrong," her former friend Sam Lutfi told People at the time.
2008: Britney was put under a conservatorship.
Jamie petitioned the courts at the time for an emergency “temporary” conservatorship, according to the Los Angeles Times. It was granted and, under the conservatorship, Jamie was given the legal right to oversee decisions about Britney's estate and health, including negotiating business deals and restricting who can see her.
2009: A fan site questioned Britney’s conservatorship.
It’s hard to say exactly when and where the #FreeBritney movement started, but FreeBritney.net started questioning in 2009 why Brtiney's conservatorship was necessary. Those q's have continued to this day.
"During the twelve years of Spears' conservatorship she has repeatedly toured the world, released multiple albums, and worked on a variety of television shows," the site points out. "Her conservators decide whether or not she works, as she cannot enter into contracts for herself because she is legally not her own person. Britney Spears needs permission from her conservators to leave her house or spend any of her own money."
2009 - 2019: The conservatorship kept getting extended.
The conservatorship had regular check-ins, according to Business Insider, and it kept getting extended year after year. In the meantime, Britney has rolled out several music albums and even did a Las Vegas residency.
The effect took its toll on the Spears' relationship. Jamie admitted in court in 2019 that "me and my daughter’s relationship has always been strained," per Us Weekly.
2019: Jamie requested to have the conservatorship extended to more states.
Jamie filed a notice of intent to extend Britney’s conservatorship outside of California to three other states: Louisiana, Hawaii, and Florida, according to ET. "Mr. Spears, in his capacity as Conservator of the Person and Estate, intends to register the Orders appointing Mr. Spears as a Conservator of the Person and Estate, as well as his Letters of Conservatorship, with states outside of California, in accordance with each of the states' required procedures, including without limitation at this time, the following: Florida, Louisiana and Hawaii," the court documents say, per ET.
Watch this to learn more about the legal battles surrounding Britney's conservatorship:
2019: Jamie stepped down as Britney’s primary conservator.
After being accused of physically abusing Britney’s 14-year-old son Sean, Jamie stepped down as Britney’s primary conservator, per People, with her longtime "care-manager" Jodi Montgomery temporarily taking over Jamie’s duties.
2019: Sources close to Britney insisted the conservatorship is good for her.
Britney’s lawyer, Stanton Stein, told the LA Times that Britney is "always involved in every career and business decision." Worth noting: Jamie Spears hired Stein, per the publication.
Her manager echoed that. "The conservatorship is not a jail," Larry Rudolph, Spears' manager, told Emily Yahr of The Washington Post. "It helps Britney make business decisions and manage her life in ways she can't do on her own right now."
April 2019: Britney completed a stay in a mental health facility.
Jamie became ill in January after suffering a health emergency, something that Britney struggled with, E! reported. Britney eventually did a month-long stay at a mental health facility.
"Everything is up in the air right now and it's going to take time," a source told E!. "Her health is going to come before anything else. Nobody is talking about touring or work. She's taking it easy and not thinking about her career. There's been no discussion about resuming her tour. She needs a break and time off. She's not in the mind frame to even think about performing."
As of now, Britney is on an "indefinite work hiatus," another source told E!.
July 2020: Britney’s brother, Bryan Spears, speaks out.
Britney’s family rarely does interviews about the singer, and it’s even more rare for her brother Bryan to speak out in public. But in July, he went on the As NOT Seen on TV Podcast and talked about his sister’s conservatorship. "She's been in this thing for quite some time now. Obviously, there was a need for it in the beginning," Bryan said. "Now, they've made some changes, and all we can do is hope for the best." He also said that the conservatorship has "been a great thing for our family, to this point, and [we] keep hoping for the best."
Bryan added that his father Jamie has "done the best he could, given the situation he was put in" and talked about how the family has "had to work together" to "keep it all going." He then opened up about the strain this has all put on the Spears family. "One person might be on stage and doing this, but it's a sacrifice from everybody," Bryan said. "Everyone is putting in, to some degree, a little bit to keep everything going."
Bryan said that he and Britney speak "constantly" and that she definitely wants out of the conservatorship. "She's always wanted to get out of it. It's very frustrating to have," he explained. "Whether someone's coming in peace to help or coming in with an attitude, having someone constantly tell you to do something has got to be frustrating. She's wanted to get out of it for quite some time."
But Bryan also seemed concerned about what could happen when the conservatorship ends. "I know what she wants but, at the end of the day, what is the reality of that?" he said. "What is the practicality of that? So are you going to call and make reservations for yourself today?"
Bryan said he’s "sure" ending the conservatorship would be an "adjustment," and even joked about his sister’s ability to drive. "She's the worst driver in the world—I'm not lying," he said. "I mean, bless her heart, she really is not a good driver, and she hasn't had to do that."
August 2020: Sources say Britney’s family plans to speak out more against the conservatorship.
A source told Us Weekly that Britney’s siblings and mom Lynne Spears are planning to "give more interviews that would sway public support to end" Britney’s conservatorship.
Apparently, her legal team isn’t thrilled about that. "Britney’s lawyers aren’t happy the family is going public with comments about how she feels about it and hopes for the future of being free," the source said.
September 2020: Britney’s lawyers file to oppose sealing parts of the conservatorship.
Britney is also fighting her dad's move to appoint a co-conservator of her estate, TMZ reported. Instead of his pick, a lawyer who has been involved in her conservatorship for years, she wants someone new and independent.
Britney also wants the hearing to be public because there are no medical or sensitive issues with her children to warrant secrecy. She filed an objection arguing that the public be allowed to know what is happening to her and hinting at support for the #FreeBritney movement.
"Britney's conservatorship has attracted an unprecedented level of scrutiny from mainstream media and social media alike," the filing says, according to CBS News. "Far from being a conspiracy theory or a 'joke' as James reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James' aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public."
Up until this point, Jamie and the conservatorship's attorneys working for him have sought to keep courtrooms closed and filings sealed in this ongoing case, which Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Brenda Penny routinely approved. But Britney objected to the sealing of her father's motion to reinstall attorney Andrew Wallet as a co-conservator.
"Britney believes it is consistent not only with her personal best interests but also with good public policy generally that the decision to appoint a new conservator of her estate be made in as open and transparent a manner as possible," the filing continues. "The sealing motion is supposedly being brought by her father to 'protect' Britney's interests, but she is adamantly opposed to it."
The filing also included a nod to the #FreeBritney movement, saying: "At this point in her life when she is trying to regain some measure of personal autonomy, Britney welcomes and appreciates the informed support of her many fans."
Britney's lawyer echoed the sentiment of the court filings while speaking to TMZ on behalf of the singer. "Britney herself is vehemently opposed to this effort by her father to keep her legal struggle hidden away in the closet as a family secret," he said. "Far from being a conspiracy theory or a 'joke' as James [Jamie] reportedly told the media, in large part this scrutiny is a reasonable and even predictable result of James' aggressive use of the sealing procedure over the years to minimize the amount of meaningful information made available to the public."
September 2020: Britney's family is "at war."
"Britney’s family is at war with each other, and it’s all because of the conservatorship," a source recently told Us Weekly.
Turns out, Britney filed a request in August to permanently replace her father with Jodi Montgomery, the licensed fiduciary who took over the conservatorship in September 2019. This year, Britney has been actively trying to make changes to the terms of the conservatorship, a marked difference from years past. That could mean that she’s engaging with the #FreeBritney movement on Instagram, too, as fans have speculated.
"Britney is remarkably resilient and is very engaged in the conservatorship, whereas in years prior, she wasn’t at all," the source told the publication. "She would never ask questions about it or go to court."
Right now, her mother, Lynne, believes it’s time for Britney to take control of her finances and personal life, while Jamie is pushing to extend the conservatorship (again.) "Lynne wants a care plan established that would transition Britney's personal life out of the conservatorship," the source said. "Jamie has told her that Britney needs long-term monitoring, and he doesn’t think she is prepared to take such a drastic action."
A major point of contention is the custody of Britney's sons, Preston, 15, and Jayden, 14, who currently live with her ex, Kevin Federline, 70 percent of the time. (Britney’s custody was reduced to 30 percent in September 2019.)
"Britney wants to live her life on her terms and is very displeased with the current custody arrangement," the source said. "She needs to see the boys much more than she currently is."
As of now, the temporary letters of conservatorship have been extended through February 1, 2021, per Entertainment Tonight.
November 2020: Britney loses her bid to remove her father from her conservatorship for now.
In a hearing that was closed to the public, a judge declined to remove Britney's dad as co-conservator of her life and estate. In legal filings, Britney's dad argued that she's not ready to take back control of her life and finances, according to USA Today.
Now, Britney's refusing to perform and will continue her work hiatus if her father stays on as her conservator. "My client has informed me that she is afraid of her father. She will not perform again if her father is in charge of her career," Britney's lawyer, Samuel D. Ingham III, told the judge at the hearing, per the Associated Press. She hasn't worked or performed since early 2019.
Ingham also said that Britney and her dad haven't communicated in a while, though her father's lawyers argued that they haven't spoken because Ingham has advised Britney not to communicate with him.
Britney did have a small win in court, though. While the judge denied removing her dad from her conservatorship, the judge did approve to add a co-conservator to her estate, the Bessemer Trust, which was what Britney's team requested.
The next hearing for the case is scheduled for December 16, per USA Today.
December 2020: Her conservatorship is extended to September 2021.
Britney’s most recent hearing took place on Dec. 16, 2020 and resulted in her conservatorship being extended through September 2, 2021, according to ET.
"I love my daughter and I miss her very much. When a family member needs special care and protection, families need to step up, as I have done for the last 12-plus years, to safeguard, protect and continue to love Britney unconditionally," her father, Jamie, said. "I have and will continue to provide unwavering love and fierce protection against those with self-serving interests and those who seek to harm her or my family."
After the ruling, an insider close to Britney spoke out about how she was feeling about the situation. "Britney has had a rough year when it comes to her conservatorship," the source said. "While she appreciates what her father has done for her in the past, she feels she's ready to take more control of her finances and healthcare, and it's been an endless struggle. She is excited about turning 39, and she thinks this year will be a healing year for her. She is handling all the legal drama by staying positive and focusing on keeping a schedule each day, which has always been helpful for her state of mind."
This is not the end of the court dates, though. There are three new hearings, including one to assess Jamie's management of Britney’s finances, scheduled to take place before the conservatorship ends, according to the LA Times.
January 2021: Britney's lawyer says it would be "detrimental" to give Jamie more control.
In new court documents obtained by Entertainment Tonight, Britney's attorney, Samuel Ingham, wrote that "it would be highly detrimental to Britney's interest" to give her father any more power in the conservatorship over her estate. Ingham filed this document in response to Jamie submitting a proposed order in which he argued that some of his powers have been stripped away when he and Bessemer Trust became co-conservators of the singer's estate in November 2020.
Ingham argued against this claim, writing that Jamie would retain the unrestricted power to select and compensate his own "professional investment advisors" separate from Bessemer Trust.
"It is difficult to imagine a better recipe for conflict between the co-conservators and confusion with both Britney and third parties," the lawyer added in the document. "Ultimately, the appointment of Bessemer Trust would be rendered meaningless."
Ingham also claimed in the documents that Jamie was attempting to ensure that Bessemer would never become sole conservator of Britney's estate and noted that it was initially Britney's request that Bessemer become the sole conservator of her estate. Ingham wants to leave the door open to that possibility in the future.
February 5, 2021: Framing Britney Spears debuts.
The documentary, which instantly made waves on social media, details Britney’s rise to fame and her drive, even as a young girl. "This is a girl who was coming from strength," one person says in the trailer. At one point, a lawyer says that Britney "accepted that her conservatorship was going to happen, but she didn’t want her father to be her conservator—that was her one request." Others questioned why Britney is still under the conservatorship.
February 2021: Celebrities speak out in support of Britney.
After Framing Britney Spears premiered, a slew of famous people flooded social media with comments about the singer and how she’s been treated over the years by the media, her family, and past romantic partners.
Singer Kacey Musgraves wrote on Twitter, "Y'all..it's plaguing me that nobody knows if @britneyspears is truly okay. Really hoping that if she isn't she can formally vocalize it in some way and that she knows all of us on the outside really give a s**t about her well-being."
Actress Amber Tamblyn tweeted that the documentary was a "rough watch," adding, "I hope Britney is freed of that conservatorship— 'liberated' as she says in her own words. It is baffling that any judge would continue to uphold it."
Journalist Tamron Hall also wrote on Twitter that "it’s an understatement" to call the documentary "heartbreaking."
Valerie Bertinelli wrote on Twitter that the documentary was a "gut punch" and made her grateful that her parents "protected" her as a child star "in this insane business."
And there are many more.
February 9, 2021: Britney’s boyfriend speaks out against her father.
Britney’s boyfriend of three years, Sam Asghari, took to his Instagram Stories to share his thoughts on her family, specifically accusing her father of being controlling. "Now it's important for people to understand that I have zero respect for someone trying to control our relationship and constantly throwing obstacles our way," he wrote. "In my opinion, Jamie is a total dick. I won't be going into details because I've always respected our privacy but at the same time, I didn't come to this country to not be able to express my opinion and freedom."
Later that day, TMZ also caught up with Sam, and he didn't hold back in sharing how he felt about the conversatorship. "I’m not upset at anybody, but you know what? What I said is what I said. I think he’s a dick. That’s just my opinion, but I’m not going to go into details. That’s it, man," Sam told the publication. "I hope [we can be on good terms one day]. Once he starts treating his daughter right, then we can be on good terms."
February 9, 2021: A post on Britney’s Twitter account says she’s "taking time out."
After days of celebrities and fans questioning Britney’s well-being, a post appeared on the singer’s Twitter account. "Can’t believe this performance of Toxic is from 3 years ago !!! I’ll always love being on stage .... but I am taking the time to learn and be a normal person ..... I love simply enjoying the basics of every day life !!!! @NYRE," the tweet reads.
A follow-up post says, "Each person has their story and their take on other people’s stories !!! We all have so many different bright beautiful lives !!! Remember, no matter what we think we know about a person’s life it is nothing compared to the actual person living behind the lens !!!!"
Many fans have questioned whether Britney wrote the posts.
February 9, 2021: Britney’s lawyers ask a judge to end her conservatorship.
The singer's attorneys are going back to court to ask a judge to remove Jamie Spears as his daughter’s conservator, according to The New York Times.
A lawyer for Britney’s ex husband, Kevin Federline, released a statement to E! News saying that Federline "has no involvement with regard to Britney and her attorneys asking to remove Jamie as conservator" and that he has "stayed out of the conservatorship issues."
February 10, 2021: Britney’s family speaks out about the Framing Britney documentary.
The pop star's family and friends apparently had "mixed" reactions to the doc, per Us Weekly.
"The likes of her dad and others in the conservatorship are far from happy about it, obviously, because they feel it’s another example of them being painted as money-grabbing villains when all they’re doing—so they say—is trying to help Britney run her life and stay in a safe place,"a source told the publication. "But there are growing numbers of people who think it’s high time this extremely sad and confusing story was aired and it’s a positive step in the right direction."
February 11, 2021: The next court hearing for the conservatorship begins.
It's unknown what will happen at this hearing, but given the recent national attention directed at this case, it seems like many people will be invested in the ruling.
March 2021: Jamie Spears says publicly that he wants the conservatorship to end.
Jamie’s attorney, Vivan Lee Thoreen, told CNN in early March that Jamie would like the conservatorship to end, too. "[Jamie] would love nothing more than to see Britney not need a conservatorship," Thoreen said. "Whether or not there is an end to the conservatorship really depends on Britney. If she wants to end her conservatorship, she can file a petition to end it."
Thoreen said that Jamie is "not suggesting that he is the perfect dad or that he would receive any 'Father of the Year' award. Like any parent, he doesn't always see eye-to-eye on what Britney may want. But Jamie believes every single decision he has made has been in her best interest," she said. (CNN also reached out to a lawyer for Britney, who said he "can't comment on a pending case.")
March 2021: Britney’s lawyer asks for Jodi Montgomery to be named her permanent conservator.
Britney has "requested the resignation" of her father Jamie Spears as her permanent conservator, asking instead that current conservator Jodi Montgomery’s temporary position be made permanent, People reports. Jodi stepped in as temporary conservator in September 2019 after Jamie stepped down due to health reasons.
Court documents obtained by People also say that Britney "reserves the right to petition for the termination of this conservatorship." Britney has previously said in court documents that she is "strongly opposed" to having her dad as her conservator and "strongly prefers" Jodi in that role.
April 20, 2021: Lynne demands Jamie's legal fees be repaid to Britney.
Court documents from Britney’s ongoing conservatorship case obtained by Us Weekly show that Lynne is officially objecting to the more than $890,000 in legal fees that Jamie’s law firm has built up since October 2020.
Lynne, who divorced Jamie in 2002, claims in the documents that many of the fees from Jamie’s law firm Holland & Knight are "procedurally and substantively improper." Lynne also said in the documents, which were filed on Monday, that the services were not "performed in good faith for the benefit" of their daughter. Lynne also said that the firm is demanding "utterly excessive" compensation.
Lynne’s request: The court should review the bills. She also wants a good chunk of the fees, particularly the $224,000 set aside for the law firm to handle communication with the press, to be "immediately" paid back to Britney’s estate.
The objection specifically says that Lynne "vehemently objects" to the "national media tour that Mr. Spears' counsel has embarked upon," pointing out that the work was "unnecessary" and "directly contrary" to Britney’s desire for privacy.
"The Conservatee’s life has been under a media microscope, and the last thing she wishes, desires, or derives any benefit from is her Conservator’s attorney spending money to promote herself in the same media that scrutinizes everything that happens" to her, the objection says.
Lynne also protested against the actual cost of the law firm, saying that the services cost "$200,000 more than all of other law firms combined for whom fee applications were filed, largely for similar work done" during the same time.
April 27, 2021: Jamie Spears asks the court to throw out Lynne’s request that he pay for her legal fees.
In Brit’s latest court case, Jamie’s legal team Holland & Knight filed court documents that assert Lynne's objections are without merit and claims she is "not acting in the best interests of her daughter”, according to ET. They also allege that Lynne "exploited her daughter's pain and trauma for personal profit by publishing a book" about the singer, referring to Lynne’s 2008 memoir Through the Storm: A Real Story of Fame and Family in a Tabloid World.
Holland & Knight also argue that Lynne has "ignorance regarding the complex nature of the Conservatorship Estate," and that the fees are necessary to "properly defend Mr. Spears from specious allegations that have threatened to tarnish his reputation as a loving, caring father who has nothing to hide, has been loyal and fiercely loving toward his daughter, sought to protect her, and manage her finances so that she can live her life the way she wants."
April 27, 2021: Britney requests to speak in court for the first time.
The hearing also brought an unprecedented request from Britney. She wants to speak for herself in court and ASAP. It will mark the first time she will voice her opinion in court about the matter. For over a decade, Britney has rarely spoken about the conservatorship case. According to The New York Times, Britney’s court-appointed lawyer broke the news.
“The conservatee has requested that I seek from the court a status hearing at which she can address the court directly,” Samuel D. Ingham III, asked the judge overseeing the case.
They don't want to waste time and proposed the hearing be scheduled on an “expedited basis,” preferably within 30 days. And the judge, Brenda Penny, set the next status hearing for June 23, ahead of the previously scheduled July date.
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