The controversial conservatorship that has controlled pop star Britney Spears’ personal affairs and finances for 13 years has finally been ended at a landmark court hearing in Los Angeles.
It is a life-changing decision for Spears, who spoke publicly in open court for the first time in June – delivering a bombshell statement in which she described the complex legal arrangement as abusive and condemned her father Jamie Spears and others who have been in charge.
At a follow-up hearing in September, her father – who has strenuously denied any wrongdoing – was removed by Judge Brenda Penny from his role.
Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy 🥺❤️ !!! I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen 🙏🏼☀️🙌🏼 ???? #FreedBritney
🎥: @AbbyShalawylo pic.twitter.com/yk1vO3H02L
— Britney Spears (@britneyspears) November 12, 2021
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Now, the judge has decided to end it completely – a decision met by cheers and celebrations outside the court on Friday as supporters became aware. Delivered following 30 minutes of testimony, the judge added two caveats – specifying that an accountant serving as a temporary conservator should retain some powers – but ultimately said the ruling on the legal arrangement is “effective today… thereby terminated”.
It means Spears, 39, will now have a say in controlling her estimated $60 million (about £45 million) estate and finally has the freedom to make her own medical and personal decisions for the first time since 2008.
As news of the ruling broke, the star shared footage from outside court, and said: “Good God I love my fans so much it’s crazy !!! I think I’m gonna cry the rest of the day !!!! Best day ever … praise the Lord … can I get an Amen #FreedBritney.”
In a second message, she said: “I can’t freaking believe it !!!! Again … best day ever !!!!,” while her fiance Sam Asghari also posted to say: “History was made today. Britney is Free!”
Judge Penny’s decision was the culmination of years of public and private legal wrangling from multiple parties who faced allegations they did not have Spears’ best interests at heart. In court, the singer’s lawyer Mathew Rosengart quoted her previous testimony: “I just want my life back.”
All parties were in agreement on the conservatorship ending, including the star’s father and mother, Lynne, who joined the hearing virtually. And the conservatorship was terminated without the need for a psychiatric evaluation, which Spears had previously made clear she was against.
The legal agreement had been put in place in 2008 after the star was said to have suffered from mental health problems. Jamie Spears had been largely in control since then – he stopped managing his daughter’s personal affairs in 2019 but stayed in charge of her finances – until he was removed by the judge earlier this year.
Many fans of the singer had been questioning the conservatorship for years and the #FreeBritney movement took hold early in 2019, with growing protests taking place outside court as hearings took place. As the arrangement continued year after year, many began to question how a global pop powerhouse was able to perform to packed-out arenas if she was incapable of looking after herself day-to-day.
Britney Spears: Timeline of key moments in star's career and conservatorship
1998 – Aged 16, Spears releases debut single …Baby One More Time. The following year, her debut album of the same name tops the charts in 15 countries.
2004 – Spears marries childhood friend Jason Alexander in a surprise ceremony in Las Vegas but the marriage is annulled three days later. Nine months later, she marries dancer Kevin Federline.
2005 – Her first son, Sean Preston, is born. The star also wins a Grammy award for hit single Toxic. Second son Jayden James is born the following year – two months later, Spears files for divorce from Federline.
2007 – Spears enters and drops out of rehab twice in a matter of days and infamously shaves her head at a salon in Los Angeles. The star later loses custody of her two sons. Despite her personal struggles, she releases fifth album, Blackout.
2008 – The court-ordered conservatorship is put in place, with Jamie Spears and an attorney put in control of the star’s personal and business affairs. Comeback album Circus is released at the end of the year and a world tour follows in 2009.
2011 – Spears releases her seventh studio album Femme Fatale and embarks on another tour.
2013 – A two-year residency in Las Vegas begins and the singer releases Britney Jean, her eighth album. The residency is later extended for another two years.
2019 – The star announces an “indefinite work hiatus” and cancels a second planned Las Vegas residency. The #FreeBritney movement is started by fans.
2020 – Spears’ lawyer asks for her father to be replaced as conservator. At a later hearing, the court is told the singer will not perform live again while he is in control.
June 2021 – In June, Spears speaks out in open court for the first time, giving an emotional statement describing the conservatorship as abusive.
The following month, Spears gets to choose her lawyer for the first time and her new attorney requests that Jamie Spears be removed as conservator.
September 2021 – Jamie Spears files a petition to end the conservatorship completely – later in the month he is removed from his role by the judge hearing the case. Spears and her boyfriend of four years Sam Asghari announce their engagement during this period.
But pressure to end the agreement ramped up at the beginning of 2021 with the release of the Framing Britney Spears documentary, and as the star herself demanded to speak in open court for the world to hear her side of the story.
Key to the monumental decision to bring it to an end was Spears’ emotional testimony in June. The star told the court she wanted to get married and have another child – she is already a mother of two boys – with Asghari, but claimed she was not allowed and had been made to use birth control. She also said she had been forced to take medication against her will.
At the height of her fame, Spears was one of the biggest pop stars in the world, best known for hits including …Baby One More Time, Oops!… I Did It Again, I’m A Slave 4 U, Toxic, and Womanizer. However, she has not performed live since 2018 – and previously said she never would again while her father was in control.
Jamie Spears, who has repeatedly said he has only ever acted in his daughter’s best interests, has been accused of financially benefiting from the conservatorship. However, his lawyers argued that it was his smart management that saved the singer from financial ruin.
Mr Rosengart, a high-power Hollywood litigator who took over as Spears’ attorney in July, has accused the star’s father of attempting to extort his daughter and is calling for a forensic financial audit of the conservatorship.
Now she is free from the arrangement, Spears is able to marry 27-year-old fiance Asghari, the Iranian-born actor and model she met on the set of a music video in 2016.
The next hearing in the case is set for 19 January.