Why did Britney Spears have a conservatorship? Understanding the 13-year saga as it finally comes to an end

Britney Spears' conservatorship was officially terminated on November 12, 2021 (Image via Getty Images)
Britney Spears' conservatorship was officially terminated on November 12, 2021 (Image via Getty Images)

Britney Spears' conservatorship finally came to a historic end following the official termination of the legal arrangement after 13 long years. On November 12, 2021, Judge Brenda Penny announced the end of the order "effective immediately" with no objections and without the need for a mental evaluation.

Fans and campaigners celebrated the momentous decision outside the Los Angeles Superior Court, as the "Princess of Pop" took to social media to thank supporters of the "Free Britney" movement:

Following the announcement, attorney Mathew Rosengart mentioned that it was a "monumental day" for the singer:

"As of today, effective immediately, the conservatorship has been terminated as to both the person and the estate. This is a monumental day for Britney Spears. 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 also mentioned that Britney Spears' assets would be officially transferred to her trust, but a "safety net" will be arranged for her finances and personal care. The attorney also said that the #FreeBritney campaign played an "instrumental" role in the ruling.

Britney Spears was placed in conservatorship under her father following two incidents of mental breakdown in public in 2008. The legal arrangement gave Jamie Spears complete authority over her assets, finances, professional endeavors, medical requirements and personal decisions.


A brief timeline of Britney Spears’ conservatorship battle

Britney Spears was placed in a conservatorship under her father in 2008 (Image via Getty Images)
Britney Spears was placed in a conservatorship under her father in 2008 (Image via Getty Images)

Britney Spears made consecutive headlines when questions surrounding her mental health garnered colossal media attention following her divorce from husband Kevin Federline in 2007. The following year, the singer refused to give up custody of her sons to her former husband.

Amid a rough custody battle, the musician had two significant mental health crisis incidents in public. She was caught on camera while shaving her head and was later photographed attacking a paparazzi car with an umbrella.

In January 2008, the Baby One More Time hitmaker was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and placed on an involuntary 5150 psychiatric hold. That same month, she was hospitalized at UCLA Medical Center for a second hold.

Following the incident, her father Jamie Spears and business manager Lou Taylor filed to place the singer under a temporary conservatorship. As per California law, the legal arrangement is organized for individuals who fail to provide for their personal needs and manage their finances.

In February 2008, Jamie was named Britney Spears' sole conservator, controlling her finances, estates, medical needs, personal decisions, and professional choices. By the end of the year, Judge Goetz extended the conservatorship for an indefinite period.

Britney Spears established a successful career despite her ongoing conservatorship and signed a four-year concert contract with Las Vegas Residency. In 2016, the pop star released her ninth studio album Glory and addressed her conservatorship for the first time in public.

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On The Jonathan Ross Show, Britney Spears mentioned that the conservatorship enabled others to make decisions on her behalf:

"Okay, so I have this conservatorship. I've been under this conservatorship for three years and I felt like a lot of decisions were made for me, so I wanted [her ninth studio album Glory] to be my baby and I've been really strategic about it."

In 2018, Britney's father reportedly considered ending the conservatorship following the singer's tenth world tour. However, in 2019, Britney Spears postponed her second Las Vegas residency indefinitely following her father's near-fatal colon rupture.

The Toxic singer checked into a mental facility that same year, citing stress over her father's health issues. However, fans across the globe came together to launch the "Free Britney" movement demanding the end of the conservatorship and her stay at the medical center.

Following Britney Spears' month-long stay at the facility, Jamie Spears filed a request to temporarily step down from the conservatorship due to "personal health reasons" while appointing Jodi Montgomery as the temporary conservator.

Nearly a year later, Judge Brenda Penny further extended the conservatorship until February 2021. Meanwhile, Britney's court-appointed attorney Samuel Ingham III filed a plea to remove her father from the conservatorship on the singer's behalf.

Unfortunately, the court dismissed the plea on November 2020. In response, Britney Spears' lawyer mentioned that the pop star would refrain from working "out of fear of her father" and would not perform as long as Jamie is in charge of her career decisions.

Meanwhile, in February 2021, the #FreeBritney movement gained further momentum leading to the release of the "Framing Britney Spears" documentary. Following the film's release, several celebrities took a stand and demanded the removal of the conservatorship.

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In March 2021, Britney requested the court give her temporary conservator Jodi Montgomery the father's role. The following month, the performer was granted permission to speak in court.

The conservatorship battle took a crucial turn when Britney Spears finally spoke in court during the June 23 hearing. In a nearly 20 minute statement, the Piece of Me singer opened up about the horrors of her conservatorship to the world:

“I’m not lying. I just want my life back. And it’s been 13 years. And it’s enough. It’s been a long time since I’ve owned my money. And it’s my wish and my dream for all of this to end without being tested.”

The Grammy Award winner revealed that she was made to work against her wishes under guardianship, placed on unnecessary treatments and medications, and even restricted from getting married or having more children. She also called out her father during the testimony:

“Not only did my family not do a goddamn thing, my dad was all for it. Anything that happened to me had to be approved by my dad… He was the one who approved all of it. My whole family did nothing.”

The 39-year-old further expressed her desire to file a lawsuit against her family to keep her under the "abusive" arrangement for 13 years:

“I would honestly like to sue my family, to be totally honest with you. I also would like to be able to share my story with the world, and what they did to me, instead of it being a hush-hush secret to benefit all of them.”
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Following the harrowing revelation, Britney Spears' co-conservator Bessemer Trust, manager Larry Rudolph and court-appointed attorney Sam Ingham filed for resignation from their respective positions.

Meanwhile, the pop star was finally allowed to appoint a lawyer of her own choice in July 2021. On July 23, newly appointed attorney Mathew Rosengart filed an official request to replace Jamie Spears from the conservatorship.

In August 2021, Rosengart filed another petition for the immediate removal and suspension of Jamie Spears from the arrangement. On September 7, 2021, Jamie Spears filed a petition to end the conservatorship.

The move came a week after Rosengart asked him to deposit all documents related to the legal arrangement, including Britney Spears' "electronic surveillance" papers. Jamie's lawyer further confirmed that he had "no interest" in continuing the conservatorship against Britney's wishes.

On September 29, 2021, Judge Brenda Penny granted the request of Jamie Spears' removal from the conservatorship and suspended him from legal order. However, on October 21, Mathew Rosengart filed new documents questioning Jamie's sudden decision to step down from the arrangement:

"It is of no moment, presently, whether Mr. Spears’s reversal was motivated by a desire to bolster his reputation or to avoid his deposition or responding to the outstanding discovery served on him in August."

However, the latter mentioned maintaining "complete transparency" throughout the new settlement and legal procedures.

In a court hearing arranged for November 12, 2021, Judge Penny announced the official termination of the arrangement, putting an end to Britney Spears' 13-year long conservatorship battle.

Edited by Rupak Kumar Jha