Britney Spears in conservatorship win: is she really free?
The star’s father will no longer have control over her finances and personal affairs
Britney Spears is celebrating a major victory in her battle to end the conservatorship that has given her father control of her life for almost 13 years.
In a ruling that may “pave the way” for the singer to regain her freedom, said The Guardian, Los Angeles judge Brenda Penny ordered that Jamie Spears be suspended immediately from his daughter’s conservatorship.
After hearing arguments from both sides for nearly two hours on Wednesday, Penny said it was in Spears’ “best interests” to remove her father from the legal agreement, adding that the “current situation is untenable” and “reflects a toxic environment which requires the suspension of James Spears”.
The ruling came a few months after Jamie Spears had himself filed to end the conservatorship and to allow another guardian to replace him.
Shortly after the judgment, Britney posted an Instagram video of herself having a flying lesson, captioning it: “On cloud nine right now.”
Does this mean her conservatorship is over?
Not yet. The court said there will be a further hearing on 12 November at which the termination of the conservatorship will be discussed.
During yesterday’s court hearing, Penny suspended the conservatorship the American star had with her father, but a separate conservatorship overseen by an accountant chosen by Spears’ legal team was kept in place, reported the BBC.
Penny ruled that Spears’ care be turned over to the accountant, John Zabel, “forthwith”, adding that it “is in the best interest of the conservatee”.
Zabel will now act as her temporary fiduciary conservator, overseeing her finances and estates in place of Spears’ father.
Vivian Thoreen, Jamie Spears’ lawyer, objected to Zabel’s appointment, calling him a “stranger” to the case, but Spears’ own lawyer argued that Zabel should oversee her financial affairs until allegations of conservatorship abuse against her father had been fully investigated.
Jamie Spears’ conservatorship initially covered both his daughter’s financial affairs and her personal care. But this was taken over on a temporary basis by care professional Jodi Montgomery in 2019, when Spears’ father stepped down as her personal conservator for “health reasons”, said the BBC.
Montgomery has signalled “that she would support an end to the conservatorship” and “could work with Spears’ team on the process”, said The Guardian.
What happens next?
The pop star’s lawyer, Mathew Rosengart, has said he is prepared to submit a termination plan at Spears’ next hearing to ensure an “orderly transition” out of the conservatorship, which the star wants to end entirely, reported The New York Times.
“My client wants, my client needs, my client deserves an orderly transition,” he told the judge.
But terminating a conservatorship without a medical evaluation is “unlikely”, reported The Telegraph. Both Spears and her father have requested a mental evaluation, but this “could take several months to complete”, said the paper.
And it is usually “very difficult” for people to have conservatorships entirely removed once they are placed under the arrangement, said The Guardian, but the star could be helped by the fact that lawyers on both sides of the case, as well as current conservators, seem to support ending the arrangement entirely.
It may be that when the termination plan is presented to the judge, they “immediately” approve the plan – but it is far from certain.
If the arrangements are dissolved, the star would no longer have the professional conservators currently in place overseeing her financial affairs, medical care or personal life.